Tag Archives: Creativity

Senility

I just don’t understand.  Everything was moving forward, falling into place, and dragging me along for the ride, but now… nothing.  Worse than nothing.

What am I going to do?  I made all these promises that now, I can’t keep.  Dozens of people are relying on me, but I can’t come through for them.  I’ve lost everything.

Slowly I am drowning, dying, disappearing into nothingness.  Maybe they won’t notice.  Maybe… maybe I don’t really exist.  Maybe everything I think is real, really isn’t.  I thought what I had was real, but it wasn’t.  Maybe I am hallucinating.

Oh, what am I going to do?  No job.  No home.  No family.  Nothing.

This grass is cold.  My bum’s all wet from the dew.  My face is burning, but I don’t know why.  I don’t think I care.  I just need to work out how it all went so wrong. 

I smell.  I need a bath.  A shower.  Where was that pond I passed yesterday?  Why don’t they put taps in parks anymore?  What caused me to be here?  What did I fail to see, or do?

Dad always said I’d amount to nothin’.  How did he know?  “Useless as tits on a bull,” he said.  “Thick as two bricks, and not much bloody smarter.”  Well, I guess he was right.  I can’t be too smart to have lost what I’ve lost.

There’s no way out.  I’m pretty sure.  I mean, what can I do?  I have nothing to give, nothing to make up for everything.  It was all going so well.  What went wrong?

The sun’s up now.  It’s getting hot.  Steam’s rising from the ground as the heat boils the dew.  I can’t go back there.  I just can’t.  They’ll do things to me I just can’t bear.  The pain’s too much.  I need some peace.

“George!”

Oh, shit!  She found me!  I can’t get up.  There’s nowhere to hide.

“George!  What on earth are you doing here in the garden?  You’re all wet, and what’s that on your face?  Ugh, you smell like turpentine, what have you been up to?  Everyone’s been looking for you.  You were going to play the organ for the dance.  Come along now, George.”

“But it all went wrong.  I’ve lost everything.”

“That was years ago, George.  You’ve got a nice home with us now.  C’mon, the nurses will help you.”

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Thank you Mr Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway circa 1937

It has been the most productive day I have had in quite some time. I have been revising the first seven chapters of my novel and the feeling of being alive has returned.

It’s probably obvious to regular readers of this blog that my motivation for writing ebbs and flows and I go through periods of manic activity which then give way to periods of procrastination. If it was possible to pinpoint one thing that turned procrastination into action, those periods of not writing would probably not worry me so much. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any connection between the things the seem to revive my writing motivation.

So, who or what was it that brought about a resurgence of motivation and activity this time? Believe it or not, it was reading Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not.

This might not be considered such a strange event, especially since Hemingway is considered one of the greatest writer’s of all time, but it’s not exactly what you might think. The reason Hemingway’s book motivated me is not because it was a fantastically well-written novel, in fact, it was the exact opposite.

This was my first Hemingway. I plunged into it expecting to be blown away by some mystical power of amazing literature – boy, was I disappointed. Part 1 was okay, nothing totally amazing, but it wouldn’t be the first book I have read that took great persistence to get really involved in the story.

The change of perspective in Part 2 was when I started to have doubts about the greatness of Mr Hemingway. Although, in truth it wasn’t just the change in perspective, lots of novels do that, it was also the disconnected and disjointed feeling that came through reading it.

When I started on Part 3, I wondered out loud if the book wasn’t really a collection of short stories.

Then, I was overcome with complete confusion as the whole thing seemed to take a major detour from the original idea. I was seriously starting to question why this guy was supposedly considered to be some kind of writing God. Hope and motivation for my novel were starting to return.

I finished the book, and straight away started to research Mr Hemingway. I discovered that To Have and Have Not came 8 years after his previous novel, although he had published some short stories in between. I also discovered that this novel started life as two short stories and a novella, so some of the change in perspective and disjointedness started to make sense. But then, according to some contemporary reviewers from the late 1930s, disconnection seems to be a common theme through all Hemingway’s work (that and the lack of distinction between characters in his dialogue).

To Have and Have Not has been referred to as a ‘bunch of junk’ although there seems to be some confusion as to whether this comment should be attributed to Hemingway, himself, or to film director, Howard Hawks, who made the novel into a film of the same name. However, once you start looking into the novel a little deeper than words on a page, and start to question Hemingway’s motives for writing it or what he was trying to explore, then you can start to see that, as a piece of literature, and as an author, Ernest Hemingway was bordering on brilliant.

Regardless of whether this is Hemingway’s worst book or indicative of his work in general, if a great writer can produce a novel like this, there is hope for me yet. That is not to say that I, in any way, shape or form, consider myself in Hemingway’s league (heck, I haven’t even finished writing 1 novel yet, let alone published 7 of them!), but if readers of my novel are not left scratching their heads or having to resort to Google to work put the story together then I will consider myself successful.

Procrastination sets in

Procrastination sets in

As most writers know, NaNoWriMo is upon us, and at the beginning of the year I had planned to participate this year. However, ‘life’ got in the way and I also found myself a good way into writing a novel by the time November rolled around. So, instead of putting my work-in-progress on hold and write an entirely new novel during NaNoWriMo, I had set myself a challenge to have the first draft of the original novel completed by November 30.

All was going well until I turned 40.

In the few weeks leading up to the big four-oh, all of my spare time was focused on party preparations, (because you only turn 40 once, I was happy for it to be a ‘big deal’).  Anyway, my writing stopped during this time and now, after the partying has come to an end, I turned my attentions back to my manuscript.

But nothing happened.

I sat at the computer, checked my emails, read the news, listened to music, played a game – everything other than write. Then today, when I was having a coffee trying to psyche myself up to write, I thought I should do some sewing, clean the house, go shopping etc.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, I have been in this position before, so I know what is happening – I’m procrastinating!

Tsk! Tsk!

Oh, well, at least I have managed to sit here for the last few minutes and write a blog post. Now, if only I can transfer this concentration and get back to my novel…

6,000 words!

6,000 words - done!

Woo Hoo! Who said it couldn’t be done? Well, I for one definitely had my doubts.

No, I haven’t completely lost my mind, (although I am working on it), but I did achieve something amazing today.

I haven’t written much on my novel for the last couple of weeks, thanks to ‘life’ getting in the way, so this afternoon I set my goals high and set about trying to achieve them.

My goal was to write 6,000 words today.

Considering I didn’t sit down to start writing until 1.30 this afternoon, I was expecting my goal would be quite out of reach, but there is nothing like a challenge to give my motivation a bit of a kick-start.

With no incentive, other than to reach the magic 20% mark of my first-draft by writing 6,000 words today, I sat down and let my fingers do the talking, (so to speak).

Anyway, almost 10 hours later, I have just completed 6,112 words!

I am exhausted, I have to go to work early in the morning, and my only sustenance today has been coffee, but I am so excited that I have managed to get so much written. This bodes well for the rest of the week, because, having been so engrossed in the story for so many hours in one sitting, I am keen to keep the momentum going.

It feels so great to have pushed myself beyond the goals I would normally set for myself, I just had to share.

Fell free to let me know of any writing goals, big or small, you’ve achieved recently so we can celebrate together!

If you want to write, then write

I have read a number of articles recently claiming to provide ‘expert’ advice on ‘how to write’.  If I was going to rely on all of this ‘expert’ advice, I would achieve nothing other than becoming totally confused.

The majority of the articles I have read appear to fall into two main categories – the first advocating a fully structured approach to writing where endless hours are spent outlining themes, plots, characters, scenes, conflict, resolutions etc, and the other category advocating a ‘write first, structure later’ approach.

With two equally earnest camps expounding opposing points of view, how is anyone interested in writing but not feeling confident about their abilities supposed to get past reading all of this ‘expert’ advice and write their stories?

I don’t for a minute claim to have any expertise in the field of writing – but it is definitely something I enjoy, and more and more it is something I can’t live without.  From countless conversations I have had since I embraced my need to write rather than ignore it, I have come to the conclusion that writing is a very personal thing,  everyone’s experience of writing, and with writing is very different.

With this in mind, I would argue that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to write.  Rather, if you want to write, or need to write, then write – anywhere, anytime, anyhow.  If you get into a writing habit, without trying to meet the expectations of so-called ‘experts’, eventually you will find your own style of writing that works for you.

In fact, the one thing that all of the articles I have read recently agree on is developing a daily habit of writing.  For some people this might be first thing in the morning, for others last thing at night.  Some people will make a definite time to write, and others will steal five minutes here and ten minutes there throughout the day.  I personally don’t think it matters – whatever works for you.

So, if you are one of the many people out there who have a story or stories to tell, or one of the many who have said, “One day I’d like to write a …”, then the only advice this non-expert can give you is start writing.  A story will not tell itself, you have to write the words – even if it is only 50 words a day.

Alive and writing

Alive and writing!

It has been months since I have posted anything here.  My loss of creativity, written about in my last post, seemed absolute.  Try as I might, no words would come as I sat down to write, and then after a while I just stopped trying.

All that has changed over the last few weeks.

Even though I have two novels and one non-fiction piece that I had been working on previously, inspiration struck like a lightning bolt out of the blue, and I have been regularly working on a new novel ever since.

The writing of it is quite different to my usual method, so I am not sure if this has helped keep the creativity alive, or if the act of writing daily has something to do with it.

When the inspiration came, I was afraid it would leave as quickly as it had arrived, so I wanted to limit as much self-imposed pressure and expectation as I could.  As I sat down to write on that first day after having felt deserted by creativity for so long, I decided to write just 1000 words.

At the time I wasn’t sure if the writing would be a short story or something more, so I thought 1000 words was achievable either way, and by then I would have a better idea.

I also decided not to think about the creative spark too much.  Instead I just sat and tapped away on the keyboard.  Whatever comes, comes, I thought, and decided not to try and direct the story in any particular direction, but instead let the story go wherever it pleased.

The result, so far, has been fantastic – not in the sense of what has been written – but in the sense of freedom I have felt as I have been writing.  No pressure,no limits, no trying to make the story fit into any particular mould.  If it doesn’t make sense at this stage, that’s okay – after all isn’t that what editing is for, to make the story make sense?

So, I am still alive, and I am busy writing.  Hopefully my next post will not be so long away as this one was from the last 🙂

A loss of creativity

Unable to think outside the box

Have you ever read something that you have written years after you wrote it and wondered, “Where on earth did that come from?  Did I really write that?”

That happened to me earlier tonight.  I was looking back at some of my very  early writing and while reading one short story had no recollection of writing it.  If it hadn’t been a rough draft in my own handwriting I would have thought someone else had written it.

Normally when I read stories or articles I have written I get memories of where I was sitting, what I was thinking, where the inspiration came from etc, but for this piece I have a complete blank.  Why would that be?

Anyway, going back over some of my old stuff will hopefully inspire me to write some new stories.  I have been overwhelmed by emotional issues for quite some time now, and as a result have been on medication which I believe has hindered my creativity.  Oh, I still get ideas, but instead of being sparks that last long enough to be fanned into something more substantial, these are like instantaneous flashes that die and fall away before there is any chance of moulding them into anything useful.

Now that I can acknowledge my lack of creativity and the possible cause of it, I hope to formulate a plan to get me back into some kind of writing routine.  I miss writing, a lot, and I really want to get back on track – I’m just not sure how to do that yet.

So, while I’m trying my best to get some kind of story down, you will probably see a few more contributions from my unbelievably talented young cousin, Lucinda.