My creative self is a bit disturbed this week. An old abandoned project haunts my thoughts. The old story comes unbidden to my mind. My mind’s eye sees two of my protagonists in the sun atop the tall dam, holding back the waters of Hetch Hetchy. A young man sits on a horse considering the middle-aged woman standing on the decaying roadway. They face each other, with hope, with fear, with concern, with hate, with love.
Unbidden, the scene replays in my mind. Dialogue plays out: Then shifts and the characters move. In one scene the young man arrives with his rifle across his lap. In another, the woman gives the young man the rifle and a string of mules. In another he says nothing. Sometimes the woman explains the why. Sometimes they don’t speak at all. Sometimes he takes the mules while she flies away down the canyon in a helicopter.
But always the man goes south. Never west where the woman the goes.
It’s a story that I tried to write years ago about a young man in the near future escaping a repressive society. I went to some lengths to make it work as a novel. I did research, wrote notes, character studies, chapter outlines, and have even been to some of the real places where my story would take place.
It never worked. The writing never flowed as I realized the problems both with the narrative and the story I was trying to tell. My mind worked on it many times and always got stuck on top of that dam. The scene never resolved. I decided to abandon the project, put my notes away and then started writing this blog. The novel became apart of the past.
But today, there is an energy in the tale that won’t let my mind go. Perhaps it is the most frustrating part of being a writer or an artist – having a vision, but not being able to complete it.
As a writer I firmly believe in the concept of following the creative energy as it presents itself. Following that notion I was able to write my cancer poetry book in just a few months. However as I write tonight I find my energy for the poetry book fading. It’s time it was done and sent to an audience.
I am working on that, but the poetry book has now moved from creative to just the work of editing, marketing, business, and the whims of a publishing world I barely understand. I’ll figure it out, the poetry book needs to leave home.
But while I work on that task, the sun’s afternoon light and heat falls on Colin and Consuela as they dance around the conclusion of one story and the start of another.
I wonder why? What is it in that this fabrication of my mind is so compelling that I keep coming back to it? So many whys and so few answers.
While these two people do their slow circle in my vision, one old thought finds it’s way back to the surface of my brain – fracture the crystal. I keep trying to see the story as a complete whole and that vision won’t come. Perhaps it’s time to accept that the arch of this narrative isn’t a smooth curve from A to B, but rather a series of glimpses of fragments of a life that keep rearranging themselves and refuse to be static.
Perhaps, I am not making sense here and should just go start the pizza.
The creative process is a strange thing and most times I don’t understand it. I know it has an energy. I know I can feed the creative energy by doing things like hiking, reading, working in my shop and playing. What is harder to do is to control what creative energy comes out and where it calls us to go.
That’s where I am this week. One writing project moving from me to my audience and one project disturbing my mind. Just one question on my mind tonight: Do I follow that energy and pull out those old notes?
Or do I let my intellect, my inner critic, step on that thought and refuse to revisit the past?
Shall I fracture a story line and tell it as it comes to me: A series of short scenes, poems and notes? Or should I struggle for completeness in the vision?
Till next week,