Disturbed

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,
Andrew

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I work in the high tech world doing software release engineering Then I got prostate cancer Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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34 Responses to Disturbed

  1. Let it flow! You can always piece it together in a more cohesive manner later, if the fancy strikes. For now, just get that thing on paper! Looks like you already decided this while I was on vacation, but I thought I’d chime in, just in case you’re doubting yourself. Go write!

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  2. Pingback: Creative Struggling | Andrew's View of the Week

  3. Since I’m arriving late here, what was your decision, Andrew? I would say go with your energy and revisit. Sometimes, we’re unable to continue writing because our muse has left the building. Then out of nowhere, he/she returns and energizes us…just a thought. Good luck with everything!

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  4. Glynis Jolly says:

    Andrew, In the past, I’ve had trouble going from the idea of a story to actually writing it because I’ve been under the assumption that I need to see the whole thing before I start writing it. Of course, I never have seen the whole story in my mind, just bits and pieces. Build on what you have. You may want to read some of Winter Bayne’s (http://winterbayne.com/) posts. She tells how she does it and it isn’t conventional.

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  5. Sounds intriguing. I’d go for completeness.
    And pizza.

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  6. You are making perfect sense Andrew.
    Trust that you simply must and you simply will figure out how to get out of the way and let these characters tell their story. Consider transcribing for them.
    Now relax and get that pizza in the oven.
    All my best to you,

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  7. Debra says:

    I think intellect can exist well as a support to creativity, but do your best to silence the inner critic. He’ll stab you in the back every time! If the story won’t let you go then give it another go. You’ll soon know whether or not there’s enough there to hold your interest. I think I would very much like the novel’s setting. 🙂

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    • I’ll be bold and say, you’d like the setting of this story. It touches many of the places I love in California. Normally, I can silence that critic, but there is something else at work here. I think I know what it is, and need to move past it.

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  8. koehlerjoni says:

    Andrew, I think that’s all novels really are, a series of scenes, tied together in a way that makes sense. Don’t leave the keyboard and start the pizza just yet.

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  9. Interesting thoughts. Sometimes we need to break things in order to fix them. Some of the best stories I’ve read appeared to be disjointed and unrelated until the parts suddenly came together. Keep at it. The flow will come to you.

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  10. Hi Andrew I am a free spirit and write to live and share with others with no ambition to publish. I have written a play but nobody seems to want help me get it on a stage. As for your dilemma good luck. Thank you for liking my poem Hells End! Best Wishes The Foureyed Poet.

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  11. Annika Perry says:

    I feel you’ve almost answered your own question whilst writing this. Whatever happens to it, it seems you need to take this story further and I love the idea of a fractured version, with lots of different writing techniques and options. Give it go and best of luck.

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    • Sometimes you can only know an answer by saying it out loud. While I have a larger story arc in my brain, I think telling is small fragments is the way to go.

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  12. That’s an interesting idea, Andrew–to write it as a series of fractured scenes. Let the reader decide what’s going on. I wonder how that would work.

    I have a couple of stories like that in my writer’s background–the ones that won’t let go of my subconscious. One, I think I’m going to rework and publish mostly to get rid of it. It’s probably my favorite story I’ve ever written, but has never–as you say–come together. Maaybe I’ll just let that be.

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    • In this world we seem to struggle for completeness. Life isn’t like that, so why must our stories be like that. I’ve been thinking of showing the scene from two or three points of view and letting the reader figure it out.

      and you’re right, somethings just need to be written so we can move ahead.

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  13. Maybe the answer will come in another dream?

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  14. davidprosser says:

    I’d expect the story itself and the characters tell you which way the story should go, which form it must take.Now you’re putting the other book to bed, your intellect has time to make a decision though I doubt very much it will let you forget this project and do another.
    Get it out of yours system, just listen to what it wants and feel your way forward.
    The very best of luck with the cancer poetry book.
    Hugs

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