Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dark Waters of the Mind

Housekeeping first: My posting has not followed the schedule recently. Apologies for that. Further disruptions will come in June, since I'm going to China for over two weeks. Next week I will post Tuesday (5/29) and Friday (6/1) as usual; the next post after that will be Tuesday, 6/19.

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What did I want to talk about today? Right. I wanted to talk about rest, and how I don't see much of it in the future. Ever.

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Really, though, what did I want to talk about? This is the moment a writer fears: when, with a blank page in front of you, nothing is waiting to come out.

What do you do?

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When you are a writer, and your soul is bleak, it can be tempting to say, "Forget it, I'll go read something. Or sleep. Or drink tea and play with my cat."

None of the above are bad things, necessarily. But I know that personally, if I have the opportunity to write and I don't, then I will feel terrible. Reading a couple of short story collections recently has added to this: I want to sit down and write one short story after another, worlds and people melting off the page into self-contained vessels each with their own individual flavor.

It reminds me of my (as yet unfulfilled) desire to try out all the flavors of gelato at the sweet shop.

Go read some short story collections. Or, simply remember what Ray Bradbury said: "Quantity gives experience. From experience alone can quality come." And then remember that he said he wrote a short story a day for a while. You may feel the same.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

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I suppose my meaning today is discontent. I haven't been putting as much effort into posting quality as I should be, and I project six more months of work on the Utopia Project. The story is deeply ingrained in my soul, and I love it, but that is a long time to work on only one story.

I suppose what I am searching for is variety. A change of scene; a change of pace. But is that enough reason to turn from the great wheat field I am threshing to gather wildflowers?

I posted last September about Natalie Goldberg's book Wild Mind. I revisit, and my eye lands on this quote:

"A novel is a big dream, a whale of a dream. You have to go under for a long time into the dark waters of the mind and stay there."

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Ah. Yes.

For the longest time I have been uneasy because I have had no drowning dreams, which, to me, represent the courage to go deep. This current urge to write unrelated short stories is, perhaps, the desire to come up for air.

No.

I must go fearlessly into the depths even as the people about whom I write traverse the vast sea. I must sink, sink in, sink into the darkness of their hearts, dig out the shipwrecks in their souls, and lay bare the contents, whether they be gold or skeletons.

I am not religious, but I do feel as though my faith is being tested. My faith in what? In my "crazy story", my Utopia Project. The lights on the surface are tempting, and the vistas to be found on land. But I will fight my natural buoyancy because this is where I belong, six miles under, in the great mystery that is the deep ocean, in the dark waters of the mind.

Because the shark is my brother/ and the anglerfish will light my way.

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