Greetings and happy Passover, True Believers!
Arright, so let me just say that I'm pretty ripped up about this while Prince thing. If you grew up int he '80's and you were paying attention, you were listening to Prince. Not just the easy stuff like "1999" or "Purple Rain", but the stuff that came out on either end of those amazing records. Growing up in that era, we definitely defined ourselves by the music we listened to. It think it's safe to say that most people who knew me back then were unsure what to do with this hyper-intense Springsteen/U2/Who/Prince freak. The Prince part being the most surprising to most. The funny thing was, us Prince freaks had a way of finding each other and bonding over the incredible melodies and forbidden themes of his work. We were better for knowing each other. I remember a kid I went to high school with, based on one conversation we had about Prince's music, showing up at school the next day with a copy of "Controversy" for me. Why? He somehow had an extra and since I didn't have it, I should. That's what Prince's genius did - it brought people together. The world is less for his not being in it.
Okay, so enough, let's get into today's ramblings.
First, here's a great resource - Creative Confidants. It's my new favorite podcast. Jason and Joel are two working writers who talk about the creative process with a complete lack of touchy feelie b.s. They talk about their work with honesty and speak frankly about the successes, but mostly the frustrations of the creative process and how to work through them. And they swear a lot, which is always fun to listen to. Check it out. Lots of fun.
So what's been going on for me, creatively? Well, I hope you're enjoying the latest installment of The Assassin's Table, which I posted last night. And actually, this novel in progress has been taking less of my attention lately. Not to worry, steampunk fans, I will keep posting for the foreseeable future. My notebook is easily four months ahead of the website, so I could take a very long break and still keep you knee deep in adventures.
I may take a bit of a break in the creation of sword fights and wizardry in an alternate world dominated by airships and submarines. The book is in really good shape, so that's not why. It's been fun to see how the narrative is coming together. It really started as an exercise in negative capability, I just wrote what felt fun and kept trying to answer the question, "What's next?" with every sitting. Over time, it became clear I needed to spend more time thinking about the structure of the narrative and taking more steps to develop the narrative and plot.
Those of you who have reached out, I really appreciate that you're enjoying it. It's turning into an extended piece of exposition and I like to think I'm weaving new characters in all the time while weaving them into the overall narrative. There's some way cool stuff coming, and if you think it's getting outlandish, well, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Lately, though there's been an itch I've found myself needing to scratch. I have two novel length projects sitting in notebooks, and it may be time to start keying those in and seeing what you think of them. Very serious works, one that's still very much in progress, another thing that I just kept writing with no clear idea of what it is and where it's going. I still don't. I only have an idea of what I'm trying to do and to share more than that would, I think, kill the idea, so I'm just going to have to get to work and ask you what you think.
You see, my creative process is pretty schizophrenic. I never know what I'll be in the mood to write when I get up in the morning, so for about the last year, to keep myself from getting locked in, I just give myself permission to write whatever the muse tells me to write. If it's a story about a guy hard at work in a Kansas field, then that's what I write. If it's a scene with a beautiful gypsy princess confronting an aging wizard who may or may not have been her mentor at one time, then that's what I write. Sometimes it's a poem where I reflect on the nature of honesty in friendship. Then again, after writing so seriously, maybe a guy driving a jeep with his huge dog in a post-apocalyptic world populated with cannibals, zombie bikers and Godzilla sized monsters is the thing to write (I really should get back to that one).
Having the process be like this this is definitely good for my imagination and my mental health (really). But it does break a cardinal rule of writing, thank you Neil Gaiman. I have a LOT of unfinished stuff. This is partly why I decided to publicly put The Assassin's Table out there. I need to finish one of these long form pieces, and this one's the most fun. These other pieces I'm working on, well, they're kind of deep, kind of dark, and really more in keeping with my ambitions as a writer. But the muse if fickle, and I'm the product of my tastes. I love deep literary work most of all and I love producing my short fiction that touches on these deeper themes. But I also like a ripping yarn, because, well, who doesn't, and if those yarns come easily, then why not brighten my day with a bit of adventure?
So maybe today's post is all about permission. Give yourself permission to create whatever you're in the mood to create. Don't feel like you need to be locked into a specialty. Tired of knitting socks? Knit a sweater. Tired of painting the moon? Go ahead and paint a bird profile if you're good at it and you enjoy it (that's actually what an artist pal of mine does - those bird paintings are amazing! Sadly, I lost mine in one of my moves int he late '90s).
This week, the work that's gone into my notebooks (I've got about eight going right now) has been more serious stuff like "Posts", which I've included on the site today. Who knows, maybe I'll wake up feeling jovial and have some fun writing about that guy and his dog.
There's writing to do. And you? Are you recording that song on your four track? Are you tossing clay on the wheel? Have you picked up the camera today? If not, close your dang computer and get to it!
A man who loves to write.