Saturday, July 13, 2013

Momentum and ideas

This post is an arbitrary milestone. It is the 300th post since I got bored one winter in the Northwest Territory and decided I should tell people I am bored in the Northwest Territory.  I crossed a different milestone earlier today and had some difficulty getting there.

Todays arbitrary goal was hitting the Forty Thousand word mark in my Novel project.  In the fall of last year I rekindled the project and decided it would be a novella. At the time 40k felt right.  It helped that I had not visited the project in a long time, the world and people in it lacked development.  I was also working full time, a more modest goal fit my limited energy and creativity.

Flash forward to early May.  After a week of unemployment I restart the project, still intent on keeping the scale small. Yet I researched how big novels are, and also talked with my first reader.  This lead me to, two conclusions, 40k is a size that does not get published and though I had good ideas I failed at getting a friend to care about the characters in play.  By this time I had decided to make it a novel.  A sci fi adventure holding a mirror up to my time in the north, with science as correct as practical for the plot.

The novella could have been included all the major story arc elements that have always existed in this concept.  Lets not forget I have had this tale in my head for nearly 10 years. Yet had I committed to the small format I fear I would have ended up with writing that most closely resembled George Lucas's scripts for the Star Wars Prequels.  A series of checklists to make sure one thing happens after another so that the people all end up in the right places at the end.

It took at least 20,000 words for the characters to start taking on a life of their own.  In the setting of a starship the minor crew members were almost appliances.  Avatars of the ships systems with no substance to them.  A situation that has improved as their world changes around them.  Ultimately I will have to loop back to the beginning to correct that.

But I ramble.  Late May and June were months of explosive creativity.  I lived in that world, had a consistent climbing word count, maxing out at 1500 words a day for several days in a row.  1000 words is comfortable output now.  Yet early in July I started to flounder.  Socialization is a factor.  Summer is an active time for that.  Other factors played a role.

As much as I ranted against inspiration being needed for writing you still need some of it.  Perhaps it is not needed for ever writing session, but it is needed.  In a way the pump needs primed.  The body of ideas I burned through in May and June were the product of having been inspired in the past.  I reached the limit of the ideas forged at those times.

As that limit was approached my writing took on a holding pattern.  I wrote to stretch out the ideas I was still confident on and delayed advancing the story too much.  I chipped away at a few scenes, I scribbled on kid's doodle books from a dollar store to build the world, but wrote very little.

But sitting in the Prophouse cafe listening to a brass band I started to get shivers down my spine.  In a lot of ways this bout of inspiration was less about the what's happening to who, that hardly changes, though some new fine details emerged. What I started finding was the feelings I need to impart on both the characters and readers.

The need to build plausibility in to the people of my world, shapes the new scenes I need to write. There are rich emotions attached to my time in the north, I don't always want to visit them.  But for the poor souls in my world they must feel them so that you can too.  I must remember I love the north and hate the north.

The June sprint ended I was out of the old inspiration.  Yet the ideas tricked through my head.  I slowed but never fully stopped.  Somedays I itched to write, on too many days stuff happened that forced me to be aware of time, other people and the world. I still worked at building ideas.  It got much harder as the weather warmed up.  I spent a lot of time hashing out ideas as I walked.  As full summer hit us a mid afternoon stroll turned into a hellish ordeal rather than a pleasant diversion.

No one thing is responsible for a slump in creativity.  To the list I can add fear of finishing, as I worry if I will have a new idea after.  But ultimately I still choose to be creative. Creativity like my moods is weakly cyclical and low points are twin to high points.  So I will trudge along and embrace the memories of whiteness.

Thinking big thoughts.
Alexander van Houten