Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Turning it on and off

This morning while I was taking my walk, sweating in the eighty degrees (it's not the heat, it's the humidity - yeah right), I was thinking, as I usually do. Lots of varied thoughts ran through my head, including ideas for stories and poems. Which has not happened lately.

At times I think that it would be nice to be able to just turn on my writer's mind with the flick of a switch. I can't seem to do that. A lot of writers say they do that, they just "put in the time" and are able to crank stuff out. It's not because I only wait for inspiration (well, sometimes I do wait, but it never comes), but that if I set myself a schedule and say "I'm going to sit down at x o'clock and write for xyz minutes/hours," then what tends to happen is I sit there. And sit there. And sit there some more.

Oh, I've heard about various rituals that writers have to get into that space. I'll make a pot of tea or a cup of coffee or a mocha with whipped cream (a cool weather ritual). I'll clean off my desk. I'll sit in another room and put music on. None of that guarantees anything. Even my tried and not-always-true method of taking a walk often results in nary a scribble in my little notebook.

I don't usually suffer from insomnia, so there are rarely wee hours for me to spend with the blank page. Oh, I've tried getting up early and writing, but just like when I was in college, anything before 8:30 AM or so that requires the use of language, is not likely to produce any good results.

And I was thinking about all this on/off business in relation to writing, because I got an idea for a poem (while walking) that involved a realization of how I turn off other parts of my psyche. And for some reason, it's a hell-of-a-lot easier to turn them off than turn them on. Sorta like old fluorescent light bulbs. You can flip that switch and turn them off quick, plunging you into darkness. But turn them on, and they flicker and buzz and only very slowly come to life. It takes awhile. Didn't used to.

And I was wondering, is it just age? Or is something more going on?

Think I'll work on the poem.


Kam said...

I like you post - but then I like most of what you write. I'm impressed that you can remember that "it wasn't always this way". For me, inspiration comes slowly (if at all), but I can't remember it ever being any different.

Anonymous said...

Age isn't the problem.

When it was easier to write, it's because you hadn't read about how other writers write.

You seem to think that someone else has the magic. They don't.

All the examples you listed are strategies that work for others. Others are not you.

Whatever you do, don't invite everyone up to your writing cabin when it's built. Shut the door and let them deal with the horseflies on their own.


Erobintica said...

I am still working on that poem. As you well know, Kam. ha! a thousand versions later...

Very good point L. I'm realizing that I can't separate the writer me from the rest of me. Just doesn't work. So I have to allow myself things like stopping some other task to tweak a line on a poem, or jot down and idea.

Anonymous said...

That's exactly what you have to do. Again, don't over think things. When you stop to jot, you may find you need to spill for the next hour. Others will have to understand why dinner's not ready or the towels are still in the washer. Let them get used to rolling their eyes and saying, "There goes mom again. She's off....". They can fend for themselves once in a while. And whatever you do, DON'T APOLOGIZE when it happens.