Monday, January 16, 2006

The holiday that ate my brain...

I sincerely hope I'm not the only one who experienced a severe lapse in creativity during the past month. This year's holidays, for some reason, seemed more hectic than any other. Or maybe it's just that I'm getting older, and have more responsibilities. I hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year, and at Christmas made my first-ever Christmas dinner. (Ham, if anyone was wondering. And, yes, I made it myself. No honey-baked spiral hams here, nosiree!) Add to this the general stress of gift-buying, and the too-late revelation that my fiance's company would not be doing Christmas bonuses this year (no one found out about this until, oh, about the 22nd or so), and... well, I certainly tried writing.

Well, I tried writing after I finished my round of hard-copy editing. I think it went well overall; I made a lot of significant changes, and even more changes when I went to the soft-copy and edited it. The only thing that bothers me a little is that, while doing that helped a lot with cutting a great deal of unnecessary prose, but I can't help but think I ... sterilized my "voice" somewhat. I may go through again and make another round of edits, trying to put my voice back in.

But, back to writing.

It seems whenever I found myself with a spare block of time, I'd open up the document and stare at it with an expression I lovingly refer to as the "glazed-over roadkill stare." Nothing came to me. It was kind of scary, actually. These characters that had been in my head only weeks before, living, breathing, thinking, doing... were suddenly silent. They were still there, certainly, but they were milling around, looking shiftless and vaguely guilty, scuffing at the ground with their feet, looking at me like, "Yeah, so now what, fearless leader?"

However, now that we're into another year, and all of that insanity has diminished, I'm starting to feel them moving about again -- it's a clunky, slow, almost arthritic movement, but it's movement, and I'm not going to complain. Much.

Ironically, I found that keeping this blog helped me rather than hindered me with my writing. Funny thing, that. Particularly when it sometimes seems the general opinion about struggling writers and blogs is that the blog is essentially a timewaster, and that we'd all be better off doing something else. Like, oh, writing.

But I need something to write when I feel the roadkill-stare creeping over me. I need something to write that will keep the front part of my brain occupied while certain frustrating little details work themselves out while simmering on the back burner of my mind. I need to figure out why my favorite character's voice has suddenly, inexplicably changed, and what I have to do about that -- do I wrestle him back to the way he was when I started writing him? Or would I be better off seeing where this subtle shift takes me? (I'm tempted to do the latter, frankly.)

But keeping this blog keeps me thinking about writing, and for me, a lot of things fall under the "out of sight, out of mind" category. When I wasn't updating this blog, it was easier to not think about writing. Now that I'm updating it (*cough* now that I discovered that it wasn't my password I'd forgotten, but the correct spelling of my username), I'm hoping to get myself back into the swing of things, as it were.

Of course, directly after Christmas, when I wasn't writing, I was reading. I got a lovely lit-crit book on Gothic literature, and Neil Gaiman's Sandman, volumes 1-10 (and his Sandman standalone, The Dream Hunters, which is positively gorgeous), a collection of HP Lovecraft (love it), and an anthology of "The Best New Horror," which... so far is actually kind of lame and disappointing. Lovecraft makes my skin crawl, but this anthology is... mostly kind of uninspiring. It seems quite a few of the stories don't really have a firm grasp on what's really scary -- those base, primal fears that lurk in the shadows of our minds. (And Neil Gaiman has a short story in there as well, and so far it's only made me laugh, because it seems to poke fun at the conventional Gothic novel in a way that reminds me vaguely of Northanger Abbey. It could get spooky later on, but I don't know yet.)

That said, you have to know something in order to poke fun at it, and after finishing ten volumes of Sandman, Gaiman's Morpheus supplants Heathcliff and Melmoth as Best Gothic Hero, Ever.


Blogger jason evans said...

Great to see you back, Bunneh. Blogging helps me also. I get to pour short bits of creativity. People get to read my writing and learn my name. Sure, it diminishes my real writing time somewhat, but I believe it's worth it.

January 17, 2006 6:55 AM  
Blogger Mark Pettus said...

Welcome back to the blogosphere, Bunneh.

I wish I had the time to blog more... the feedback makes this my favorite kind of writing.

January 20, 2006 8:22 PM  
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