Cathy: Writer’s Stone Soup
Last week was a challenging one creatively since we had house guests, a big 4th party, lots of extraneous appointments, lots of back pain to heal and lots of sleep deprivation to go along with it all – thanks to baby C’s night nursing. After a recent burst of creativity, it was a bit of a let down for me, but I am aware that my creativity has a tendency to cycle like that. I think one of my major challenges in creativity is the fact that even if I try to schedule or plot myself or my writing, it ain’t gonna happen that way. My best laid plans often go to waste. The best response for me in that event, is to take a deep breath, exhale, and not give myself another reason to live in the land of stress and guilt. Sometimes, the worst thing I can do is sit down and “try” to write.
However, I still felt creative, because I stayed in touch with writing by – you guessed it – reading. When I don’t read on a regular basis, something besides all the articles on autism, aspergers, etc. every week, my brain starts to atrophy. I get really grumpy, too, and that’s bad for everyone around me. I think if I stay in touch with imagination by reading fiction or poetry, I can hear the voices in the back of my head rise to the surface. Instead of just picking up the cereal box in the cabinet, I am narrating the beginning of something that may never hit the page, but at least I’m having fun thinking, “As she removed the cereal box from the cupboard, she looked again at his body where it lay on the kitchen floor. Waiting for the police to arrive, she poured the corn flakes into the bowl then read the ingredients list slowly before looking once again, at the growing blossom of red around his head.”
Now, to be honest, most of these thoughts never make it to paper. If they do, I edit and re-edit and scribble it out and try it again, half a dozen times. These thoughts do not rise to the surface to make it even this far, unless I am enthralled in someone else’s writing. Right now, I am re-reading for the several-ith time Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, which Lisa Damian would recommend right along with me, I’m sure. Anyway, because I am so excited by his writing, I find myself almost in competition with it. Now, I rarely write thrillers of any kind, but I love his language so much, that the thriller aspect of this book leaks out of my head as I entertain myself by swimming in the collective writer’s soup from which we all drink. If we just realize it and know that about each other and ourselves, even when it feels a little plagiaristic, I think we might all end up writing a little better or a little more often. If I can have fun wandering in my head in between moments of engaged writing, it leads me down better paths toward doing so in the moments when I am hit with inspiration like a truck and actually write.