At any given time, my life is in a state of chaos. This is not how life is supposed to be. And yet, looking around, I don’t see where it’s all that different for the rest of you.
What do I mean by this? Well, for the last 2 months – at least – I’ve been trying to finish a book I’m writing on spec. However, I really needed to write these proposals. Then this thing called Christmas intruded. Then there were various illnesses – not mine – and the great grades crisis. Events and emergencies swirl around me, sometimes sucking me out of my – I say it is, and you can’t doubt me! – zen like state, to make me do something about them.
Why do I say this is not how it’s supposed to be? Because it’s not how books are. This, of course, is because we lie for a living. And we have to. Anyone writing life as it really is would end up in the remaindered bin, if he got sold at all. In fiction, people want to see a story that has clear lines. (Not that I don’t try to reproduce this real life effect, by creating two or three secondary plots, so that there are other things going on. In past decades, they didn’t do that, hence the much shorter more linear – and better selling – novels.)
In turn, of course, these plots teach us that life is supposed to be orderly and make us really frustrated with our messing lives. Well, make me really frustrated.
A side effect of this is that I’ve found if I don’t take art classes, my writing dries up. Why? Are the brain areas linked? Quite possibly. But, more than that, I think – explaining why just doing art at home is not the same – it makes me shut down the words and follow verbal-visual directions to what I’m doing. This, by itself, rests the mind and brings me back, refreshed to my work. Mind you, I still have to fight the cats and the kids for writing space afterwards, but at least my mind works.
This having to fight life to write is so pronounced that all sorts of people have developed superstitions surround it. The idea that the moment you try to write reality attacks or you cause a hurricane of events around yourself, or whatever, seems to infect most writers at one time or another.
So, the writers out there how do you tell the winds and the waters "be still?" Sometimes it’s amazing to me that anyone manages to create anything at all. Do you as readers ever marvel at it? For everyone – do you think working outside the house would help? Do writers and other artists feel this effect more strongly because our production is not essential except in the monetary sense?
Sound off while I go into my office and try to finish three proposals! I’ll be back intermitently.