Please Kill Me,
You’ve done it! You’ve spent days, weeks, months, or years crafting something with such literary prowess and narrative zest that you (nearly?) scatter love-juices across your keyboard. Now that the deed is finally done, you gyrate with sheer orgasmic bliss and go about your day as a champion—likely annoying unsuspecting pedestrians with off-handed inferences of your grammatical superiority.
Then, just as you lay your head down to sleep, you’re overcome with a sudden and unrelenting wave of depression. You stare into the dark abyss of your bedroom and think, “What the hell do I do now?” Will it be that high-fantasy (that everyone keeps telling you NOT to write)? Will it be the historical fiction (that you silently fear is overdone)? Maybe you’ll finally drift into screenwriting (because let’s face it… #NobodyReads.). Decisions. Decisions…
*drops to knees*
*rips shirt open*
(Et tu, Brute???)
Anyway… Relax. Uncle Nonsense has got some good(ish) news for you.
The feeling is always weird once you’ve finished. Whether it’s a novel, short story, poem, (elongated sonnet to the goddess of jock-itch), etc, the creator in question finds themselves at something of a tepid impasse. Of course, there’s usually a level of temptation to piggy-back on whatever ideas had been fostered in the previous work. Others take that impulse and focus their attention on crafting something decidedly different. I normally fall into the latter camp.
Whenever I’ve finished something, like Bedlam, that’s tonally or thematically distinct, it takes me a while to decompress and reset my mind to base. Maybe that’s not the greatest way to go about things—artists are encouraged to stick with their niche—but I’m more interested in exploring the expanse of lore that I’m capable of producing than doubling down on what I’ve already done. Sometimes, that means ejecting myself from the comfortable realm of proven ability and seeking out something more. Something greater. Something difficult.
If it’s not a challenge, it doesn’t interest me. To be honest, once you’ve done anything for too long (or too intensely) it does the brain good to contract and re-expand, with respect to the lessons learned, current trends, personal-appeal etc. It becomes important to remain open to potential subjects of intrigue or even left-field ideas, that have a habit of popping up in the fertile field of a creative mind at rest. That’s basically where I’m at in this moment.
Beyond the litany of plots, characters, and general directions that I have for an innumerable bunch of ‘not-quite-there’ tales, I always allow myself a little bit of time to daydream. I find that it does wonders in the way of clearing the brush from the forest (so to speak) and more often than not, this is when the “inspiration” tends to knock on the door, burst in, and smash up all of my cherished things.
Disclaimer: Be warned, if you’re not prepared to pull yourself out of this state, you could wind up stuck in thought for years at a time. Instead, I give myself little deadlines. If a week passes with all smoke and no fire, I take it upon myself to force out something. Whether it be a poem, short story, blog-post, or (usually) flash fiction, it’s always good to keep a little dirt on the equipment.
So, that’s what I did. After a few so-so swings at concepts that I’ve had in the vault for a while, I came up with a new idea. In addition to being far different than anything I’ve done before (in more ways than a few) it’s been developing into something of an allegory for a situation that I believe most of us can relate to.
It’s a young, vibrant, hellfire of a thing, that I have no option but to see to its end. Maybe it’ll work. Maybe it won’t. But the trick is keeping yourself open to cerebral intrusions that may threaten your plans but beckon your creativity with the siren song of possibility.
And that, boys and girls (and oval-headed overlords of the future #AlienBoogie), is the message. Don’t freak out because there’s nothing there. Acknowledge the empty cup between your ears and give permission to the universe to fill it with whatever you might like to drink. If all else fails, dump the cup. Rinse. Wash. Repeat.
As long as you’re trying, you’re doing it right.
Until Next Time,
Also available on Google Books.