Being written up for insubordination

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The human brain never ceases to amaze me.  Out of a simple idea that inspired my mind many years ago, I have recently penned, in the short span of three weeks, what could easily amount to half a novel.  I have had moments when the words just seem to flow out of a long-buried well of ideas and I feel like the vessel being used to convey someone else’s words.

I have been roused in the wee hours by the voices of my characters, longing to continue our journey and last night was no different.  But once I was awake, my mind simply spun in circles and my thoughts had nothing to do with the book.

If I could calculate how many thoughts went through my brain from 2:00 am to 4:30 am, the number would be astronomical.  I had mentally cleaned out my car to get ready for my new car, planned my entire week at work, organized five weekends of volunteers for my food bank project, put together my next shopping list, and quite possibly have solved world hunger.  My neurons were firing on more cylinders than I even have in my head.  After three hours of rapid cranial activity, I finally drifted back to sleep and woke this morning to continue writing.

That sound of crickets was all I got.  I had nothing on my mind.  It was mutiny.  There were no whispers from the characters, no idle nudges from them asking me to go in the direction they saw fit….nothing.  I couldn’t even formulate a thought about my day-to-day life.  It was like my cerebrum had decided to enjoy the last day of March break and left me behind.

Only now am I starting to regain the mental aptitude to be able to string together these sentences.  The characters are still nowhere to be found so the book remains idle.  I now truly understand the phrase ‘feast or famine’ and can only hope they will be back tomorrow and ready to get back to work.  We have a book to finish.

 

Where the hell were you guys 10 years ago?

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I have had my book idea for well over ten years.  Every so often, I open it up, dust it off and think ‘this is going to be it’.  I write a few paragraphs, get distracted by  life (or a rerun of a good sitcom) and the book just seems to close itself up until next time.

But something has drastically changed this time.  I purposely suspended my satellite service for six months in the hopes that I would read more but what has happened has been mind-numbing.  In just over a week, between working full-time and volunteering a few hours a week to make meals for the food bank, the characters have come to life and are pushing each other out of the way to tell their story.

In the past decade of developing this idea, I have come up with its inception, general direction and 9,000 words.  In the past week, the characters have become extensions of my brain and I have feverishly typed 16,000 more words and they just keep coming.  If I can keep this up, this book could potentially be finished by the end of April (because I periodically take time to write a blog post or two and work so I can pay my bills).

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It is an exciting process.  I have written my fair share of short stories, but getting involved in something as detailed as this is fascinating.  I get excited when a new idea pops into my head that weaves into the novel to give it a bit of a twist and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.  I have a general outline but when I sit down to write, I just go where the story takes me.  I can’t wait to see what happens next.  Gotta go….the characters are calling.

They just needed to point a little harder

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The words are back, the characters are active and the book is alive.  Motivation is a fickle thing.  For months I have been wanting to get back to the book but life had a way of coming first.

Suddenly I find myself overwhelmed by the personalities who are craving attention.  These poor characters have been so neglected that they are doing everything they can to be heard.  The voice recorder on my phone is never far away since these voices seem to have no sense of time.  They pay no attention to the blackness of the night sky and chatter incessantly in my ears.  After not writing a single word about them over the last couple of months, I have recorded almost 5000 words in two days because they do not want to be silent anymore.

I’m happy for their intrusion.  I welcome their chatter.  And I am willing to lose sleep to hear their stories.  Fingers crossed, over the next few months I can keep up this pace and have a book at the end of this.  Keep pointing fellas….it seems to be working.

 

Living a thousand lives

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“The man who reads lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen.  The man who never reads lives only one.”

 George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

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There is something divinely quieting about a good book.  It can take all of the external forces in our lives and make them seem non-existent for a few moments. Losing ourselves in a great story line can give us a temporary escape from reality and take us on a journey to a life outside of our own.

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Although authors don’t write with us in mind, their words can give us a momentary reprieve from the demons that stalk us throughout our busy days, those demons who try to dwell in the hours that we would like spend in solitude. When you open a novel or turn on an E-reader, the chaotic minutes that you have survived during your work day cease to exist and the outside world becomes a distant memory.

If you are one of the fortunate few who can switch your work brain to the “off” position, you allow yourself to become fully involved in the plot line that the author has created. You send yourself on a journey far beyond the realm of your existence.  The words on the page seep into your mind and you become lost in the world of fiction.

Those words, the way they are woven into a complex story line, allow us the ability to sink into a place of imagery and intrigue.  Those words have the power to enlighten us, torture us, amuse us, make us cry and keep reality at bay as long as we will let them.

We owe it to ourselves to relish those moments of escape.  We need to permit ourselves to embrace the worlds beyond our own and tune out the brash sounds of our real lives by bathing in the dulcet tones of fictitious adventure. Do yourself a favor…..grab a book, turn off the television and let yourself be transported by the rhythm of words.  You will be surprised at how simple it is to live a thousand lives.

 

Waiting for the right train

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If you are a blogger, or an aspiring novelist, you may have seen the acronym NaNoWriMo, which is an abbreviated version of National Novel Writing Month.  The eleventh calendar month has been designated as the month when writers challenge themselves to write 50,000 words, or more, in a time span of 30 days.

I thought this year I would board that speeding locomotive of creativity but, as the train neared the station, I stepped back and watched the silver bullet speed past my stop and continue on its journey without me.

As the caboose rattled down the tracks and the last of the smoke had cleared from the air, I realized I don’t want to put so much pressure on myself that I scare my characters away.  I want them to tell their story at their pace.  I have developed a relationship with these unique personalities over the last couple of years and I don’t want to be the bully in the school yard making these other kids make decisions based on any peer pressure I put on them.   I will push their swings as high as they want to go but let them slow down when they want to stop pumping their legs.  This is their journey and I am only here to tell it as they tell it to me.

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I envy those who can focus so intently for thirty days, and perhaps if I were starting a new project I would be more eager to dive in and lose myself in the process.  But, for now, I have chosen to create my own acronym – NaNoWriWin……  National Novel Writing Winter.

My writing train will still stay on track, but a track that doesn’t have such a condensed schedule.  It will meander along its path, at a rate of speed that is conducive to its creativity and not just its deadline.  And I can only hope that by slowing down the velocity of my train, that my silver bullet with travel through beautiful, and sometimes scary, landscapes over the next few months.  I’m anticipating some bumps along the way, and perhaps a few derailments, but it is the journey that I am looking forward to and not just the moment I finally reach my destination.

 

In lieu of flowers

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It is with deep regret and great sadness that I announce the passing of the hamster who used to power the wheel of thoughts in my head.  Jack died peacefully on his wheel on Sunday, June 12th at 3:15 pm in his 36th year.

Jack loved all things related to language and words.  He excelled at creating just the right nuance in a sentence so it sounded interesting without being too wordy.  He spent many hours pouring over his thesaurus to make a phrase engaging, yet comprehensible.

Jack began gnawing on his writing chops at a young age.  He dabbled in poetry and short stories and had recently begun his foray into writing a novel.  His passion for words led him to blogging and he relished the forum that allowed him complete freedom for his creative compulsion.  He was a fanatic about grammatical correctness, loved to build a story from beginning to end and thrilled in plotting twists and turns that a reader may not have anticipated.

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Jack leaves behind an empty wheel, a collection of Dean Koontz novels and a battered Underwood typewriter on which he had hoped to use to type his way into becoming a prolific Canadian author.

Expressions of sympathy can be sent to the comments section of this blog.  R.I.P. Jack – we had a good thing going for a while.

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Much ado about the opposite of nothing

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 I have been conspicuously absent from reading other blogs, or anything else in the category of the written word, because I have been alarmingly removed from anything resembling spare time.   I am on day 10 of a potential 14-day work stretch without a full day off and will certainly log a great deal of overtime this week.  (too bad I’m on salary)

I miss the carefree hours of being able to have enough brain capacity to read on a recurring basis.   This phenomenon happens frequently this time of year and I feel like I am missing an appendage when I cannot feed the creative appetite that incessantly yearns to be fed by words.

My attention span is non-existent.  My ability to concentrate is tenuous.   My capacity to hold a thought is…………………waning.  And the notion that I have enough brain power to write blog posts on my own site on a frequent basis is nothing short of laughable.

Next week is a quiet week at work, probably the last extensive time period that I will have to fill my desire to absorb words as quickly as I am able to, and write words that long to be freed from my mind, before the onset of summer.   The list of books has been established, the index of writing topics has been inventoried, the sequential collection of email notifications has been queued, the wine has been stored at the proper temperature and the spot on the couch has been reserved.

I can only hope that the three empty days on the calendar at work remain that way, for my sake.  I’m slowly learning to be a little more selfish when it comes to pursuing my true passions and I wish for the break in reality to be able to seek the charms of the fantasy life that awaits me in the world of literature and composition.