Friday, May 12, 2017

Confessions of a Literary Masochist

Well, as of Monday, I'm back to writing and writing only. Dabbled in the break-neck marketing world these last several months, but that's an experience not really worth talking about. What IS worth talking about is what I took away from that lifetime. No, not resume fodder -- though there was plenty of that. More valuable than experience, more blindsiding than that final sit-down, was a moment of self discovery that struck barely a week into the gig.

I'm a literary masochist.

The only time I'm capable of writing exceptionally well, when the thoughts are flowing and the worlds practically build themselves, is when I have zero time to write. Case in point:

When the hubs and I moved to Portland in late 2015, I had the opportunity to skirt full-time work for a bit. The hubs had a great job, the cost of living was significantly lower, and I had pent up creative energy we both knew needed to be expelled lest I self-destruct. So I stayed home, took a freelance gig here and there, and warred my way through a book. At times, it was pulling teeth. I could spend hours hung up on a single sentence, hell, a single adjective, and finish the day with 50 words that I'd go back and delete the next day.

"That's why you've got to go out and do things, Amanda. Nobody can write if they stay locked away all day, starving themselves of experiences. Duh."

Yes. I hear you. But the problem is: I was going out and doing things. Rock climbing, concerts, parties, hikes, camping, shenanigans -- I was doing plenty, because I was thinking the same thing. If I just kept myself stimulated, surely something would give.

It didn't.

I finally put the book to bed last summer, and finished a grueling round of edits by winter, at which time I felt compelled to rejoin the full-time workforce. I knew I didn't have it in me to plow through another book. The ideas just weren't there. There were gems, scattered about, each stuck around 10,000 to 30,000 words, but I was nowhere near a place where I could polish them.

The job hunt was easy enough. I'd been out of the game for almost a year, and yet, all those mad skills of mine stuck around. It happened during my second week of employment. In passing, I heard a developer gripe about buffering. It seemed insignificant at the time. As someone with slim to none technical know-how, I imagined some form of cushioning. Later, that word -- buffering -- continued to nag. I thought of the wheel that appeared next to my cursor when I had way, way, way too many applications running.

Then, halfway home, the ideas kicked in. I imagined mediators, sunless skies, totalitarianism, and: Oh. Oh, yes. I should pull over. Now.

I pulled off to the side of 99, whipped out my notebook, and wrote it all out. It came from nowhere, and it was good. By the time I made it home, I had my world and my characters and my plot and... and an empty stomach, and dogs that needed to be walked, and a workout class I was running late for, and dinner with those friends we were supposed to catch up with last week, and I needed to be in bed by ten because I had to get to the office early and it was not okay.

For the sake of my sanity, I ended up forgoing bedtime and the gym. The saga continued. I found myself writing during my lunch, during my breaks. It was simultaneously fantastic and horrible. Ideas rolled in, new stories, new worlds, each one as effortless and it was demanding. The saga reminded me of college, juggling school, work, and writing; determined to keep all the balls in the air, and doing an excellent job of fooling everyone into thinking it was easy.

I don't know how else to describe this phenomenon. It seems twisted, taboo in a tasteful way. If zero time equates to infinite ideas, though, I'm alright with suffering. My creative energy reserves are brimming and my under-eye concealer does wonders.

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