A lot of the writing gets done in my head. Sometimes it is a concerted session of deliberation and what if, but the best times are when all of that work gets condensed into a single phrase or realisation. I had one yesterday, and it was a scrabble to look as casual as possible until I could write it down.
Writing things down is good. Ideas are inconstant and sometimes fleeting, if you do recall them later, then they might have lost some of their power or nuance. I carry a notebook and a pen. It comes in handy during the impromptu rap battles that plague my daily existence.
(I got in once when I was twelve. I didn’t do too badly, now with a bit of practice, I could probably kill it. My first mixtape would be called ‘Pardon Me Sir, One Wishes To Detonate Lyrical Explosives In One’s Immediate Vicinity, pending legal advice)
Sometimes a phrase unlocks a door, turns on a light and reveals more clutter to clear away but it’s the universe tapping you on the shoulder and telling you ‘here’s a note of our appreciation.’ Mostly you get there by working obsessively on your purpose until you emerge blinking and confused, watching the news and feeling like this:
So, it is the little things that please me with writing. Finishing things, starting new things, that moment of inexorable dread when you realise that you’re a deluded fraud and then the pleasant feedback of ‘it didn’t suck.’. Seeing how other writers handle online interactions, and either making a note of it or pledging to NEVER DO THAT if I make it. Waiting to hear back from my agent because that takes a while, which is understandable. Stephen King doesn’t have to wait, he wrote fifty five books and has had movies made, so I bet he’s not hanging around waiting for a call although he did make Maximum Overdrive so that probably adds ten minutes to the response time. I’m in the minor leagues, but that’s time spent working on having things to show people. No MFA other than reading a lot and writing a lot. Doing the work.
Those moments of illumination though, they feel wonderful and I wish them for every artist out there.
I am reading The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan. It’s nasty, brutal and passionate fantasy writing and has some fantastic ideas that draw on other genres for inspiration enough that it feels respectable and also wonderfully iconoclastic. It also has a brilliant portrayal of PTSD. In a lot of fantasy, there are big huge wars but seldom do they deal with the aftermath of what sticking a sharp object into another person actually does to you.
If you answer ‘hungry’ or ‘aroused.’ then please get some help. Or write a book.