Wednesday, February 25

Ramble-y Epiphany of a Over-Worked Mind

Posted by Shelly Holder

Midterms are next week, which is why I have become more and more infrequent with my postings lately, and there's really no hope for the future. Until mid-terms are over and spring break has officially arrived, I'm likely to be non-existent, provided that I get several days rest at the beginning of said spring break. However, despite all my time spent on studying and preparing for my school work, I'm really trying to also focus on writing, grabbing that odd moment or two to scribble something down, as you'll see in the body of today's post, so here I am. And for once, I'm not consciously using this as a procrastination tool, though I admit to loathing homework at the moment. 

So I have really been trying to learn a lot about the practical craft of writing lately.¹  I've read many many of the "how-to" books  (and own many more beyond that) that are all about the crafting side, of how to create characters and realistic scenes, etc etc etc. But my discovery this year of several key blogs of published authors have really guided me to consider the other side, where all theoretical nuances and lofty intentions are thrown straight out the window, and writing is tackled with a hard hitting, nitty-gritty approach. And I've really admired this approach, respected the author for their viewpoints, advice, and works.  It's valuable practical advice that some how never really penetrated to reach my Muse. Number one being, of course, to write everyday today finally sunk in. It was definitely an "oohhhhhhhhhh" moment. Writing everyday doesn't just mean sitting your butt in a chair for 15 minutes routinely, although that is an important part. It means that you constantly have to be thinking creatively. Which I have been, but which I was unable to recognize because sometimes my string-of-consciousness and the voice of my Muse are interchangeable. 
I'm not explaining it well, but the basic gist is this-As a person, you are always thinking. There is a constant stream of thought running through your mind. You think constantly, but you create sporadically. As an author, you are operating on two worlds. The Creative Vision is like a a TV channel that is constantly on in the background, turned down low for "white noise". So as an author, I must be conscious of that parallel creative thought, find the switch and flip it on- ALL DAY, EVERYDAY. The writing everyday does not mean running around with the Creative Vision switch turned off, and then sitting down for 15 minutes and it will magically switch on. It doesn't work that way. The Muse will revolt, throw a hissy fit because she's been ignored the other 23 hours and 45 minutes. Writing everyday means thinking creatively every single minute. It means thinking about every situation, "How can I use that? How would I change it?" Every single random phrase that runs through your mind, even the half-conscious ones, must be written down, or they will be lost. They almost must be pulled out of your mind, or else they will disappear among the hordes of "normal" thoughts. I've had an unfortunate reminder this week, when I composed a poem sitting at my desk in the midst of homework. I didn't take the time to write it down, because I was doing said homework, and being arrogantly certain that I would remember it later. My Muse revolted. I now can't recall even the subject matter, much less a  single snippet of phrasing, although I know that there was a clawing hand motif in there somehow.
 Writing everyday is more than just forcing yourself to write. It's having an open mind, ready for any possibility that streaks across, and being willing to write it down, right then, whether it be in front of friends, in the midst of class, or while doing homework. It's about always writing the lest little phrase, because one day it might be integral. It's not editing in your mind, as you create, because of some half-articulated fear that what's in the mind is less tangible and writing it down on paper somehow magically makes it more real or more acceptable- and therefore vulnerable to outside attack. It's just being ready and willing for all that comes your way. 

Right now:
What I'm listening to: Nothing. I'm in a study room, and noise is BAD...... =)
What I want most: Oh, midterms to be over. Definitely. And to get all A's. That would be wonderful. 

¹Ironically, today my literature professor quoted a "old saying" that I've never heard but really struck me as apt for this time in my writing career- "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Just an interesting side note.