August 11th, 2010

post image: feetI spent several hours Sunday night trying to kick-start some creativity. I needed more than just Mr. Sanders to get me moving this time. As I said before, in theory creativity shouldn't be any problem at all. We are by nature creative. Every day every single one of us creates. We aren't handed a script as soon as we crawl out of bed. We create, we improvise, we play off each other. All day. Every day. So what makes the creative arts so difficult sometimes?

Well, for one, a good story is hopefully a wee bit more interesting than our unscripted lives. Sure, we may create fresh, new dialog during the natural course of our normal day. But it's doubtful we're coming up with anything Shakespearean either. No, to make a good story takes something extra.

A few writers get lucky. Every so often a writer might be sitting on a train and suddenly think, "What about a boy who's a wizard who doesn't know he's a wizard?" I'm not that kind of writer. I struggle; and Sunday evening was no exception. I tried one of my usual tricks (don't ask me why it's "usual" since it hasn't worked yet). I tried to "open my brain" so to speak. I looked at art, listened to music, and did what I could to rise above the reek of the earth into that plane of creative bliss.

Unfortunately the stairs to this blissful plane are forged of pure unobtainium. So, stuck in the reeks, I tried the next best thing: writing. Over the years, I've discovered my brain works best while in motion, and nothing gets the wheels turning like setting the fingers tapping. At first I had intended to delve into the biographies and backstories of my favorite characters in the current work, but I instead turned to my lackluster story. I decided to play a mental game and walk through my dilemma to its logical conclusion. It went something like this:

  1. Re-focus the story goals
  2. Revise the synopsis
  3. Set to that third draft
  4. Finish it
  5. Get it published

While Step 5 seems like it should be the ultimate goal of any writer, that actually isn't mine. Because what I slowly began to realize is that Steps 1 through 4 were destined to generate a good book. Not a great book. Not an awesome, gripping, knock-your-socks off book. A good book. It would reach Step 5 without a problem and end up at the book store among its brethren:

Fantasy Bookshelf

No disrespect to the authors (or even readers) of these books. They're infinitely more successful at this than I am (or probably will ever be). But that aside, this bookshelf just isn't the direction I see myself heading. I want to plow forward in a wholly unexpected direction. I want to blaze trails for generations of writers to come. I want to flap my arms and fly to the moon. I want to lose twenty pounds. As you can see, "I want" doesn't necessarily equate to "I can."

Still, if anything's going to "happen" it's going to be a long journey. And, as we all know, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Unfortunately, at this point, I can't even find my shoes.

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4 Responses to “The Journey of a Thousand Miles”

  1. Texas Deb says:

    Charlie if you can't find your shoes I'd advise setting out barefoot. It is how we all start and end our journeys after all - shoeless. Nothing between you and your path. (ps -if this hint inexplicably works some miracle for you I'll look for my name in the acknowledgements - deal?)

  2. Jason says:

    My worst writing happens when I plan the story really well. I can't wait to see what happens in PerNoWriQua!

    • Charlie says:

      I was thinking, if PerNoWriQua really takes off, and lots and lots of people do it, we can't call it "Per" any more.

      For anyone who doesn't know what PerNoWriQua, stay tuned. 🙂