At bloody last….

Some of the more acutely observant of you may have noticed that I’ve been concentrating on the reviewing side of things lately. This is more by accident than design – quite simply, my ‘mojo’ (as us writers term it), has been on holiday somewhere and neglected to even send me a postcard to let me know where it was sunning itself.

Over the last couple of weeks, maybe as much as a month or two, I’ve been starting stories that only get so far before I re-read them and think “that’s a steaming pile of dog-turd…”. The ideas themselves have potential – it’s just my writing has been lacking that essential spark. The prose is flat and uninspiring, and the pacing seems off too. Consequently, I get frustrated, start rewriting and only end up writing even more crap. Which in turn is a font of even greater frustration.

It’s an occupational hazard of being a writer. One moment the sluice-gates are fully open and the ideas come flooding out in a veritable deluge, so fast in fact that you have trouble keeping up. The next moment, however, drought hits: tumbleweed and dust are blowing through your mind. Your brain feels dessicated, resulting in an extremely slow trickle of words, if at all. It’s an awful feeling: you panic that you’ve lost your touch forever. In fact, it feels just like your typical Monday morning (just like it is today).

Well, I admit that I often felt very grumpy over the last few weeks. Those words and phrases just flat refused to spring over that lip of imagination, to come soaring out and splash in a glorious verbal spray onto the page. Luckily, I had plenty of other things to occupy me, like reviewing and blogging. So I still kept my hand in at the writing thing – and blogging also encourages discipline, an essential resource if you’re intent on becoming a writer.

Yesterday, though, the ‘mojo’ decided to return, and in quite some force. I’ve discovered that my best writing doesn’t accur when I have a story planned out in my head, but when I only have the vaguest notion of what’s going to happen. All the stories so far accepted for publication have been written completely off the bat. For example, in the story I am currently writing (as yet untitled), the first scene came out fully formed and I can see the action in my mind in technicolour, even as I write this. All I needed was something around which to write it.

And THAT was prompted by some photographs that Barbara Roden put a link to on FB. The photos, which can be seen here, show the deserted ruins of Battleship (Hashima) Island and the Walled City of Kowloon (amongst other places). We’re used to seeing such images in Hollywood renditions of dystopian futures and suchlike, yet, when we’re confronted by something as real as the places seen here, it amounts to a seismic shift in perspective. On top of that, the madness exhibited in the pictures of the Walled City is both terrifying and inspirational. That first photo set off a whole series of ideas for a story in my head, which I find I can combine with my original idea for the story I was writing yesterday. And yes, I feel a great deal happier now.

So, the point to all this rambling is that writing is a classic example of swings and roundabouts. One minute you’re firing on all cylinders and the next stuttering and trying just to get started. The thing, I guess, is to learn ways of coping for those moments when all you see is a metaphorical literary desert. The only thing you can keep in mind is that, at some point, you will pass an oasis where you can refresh yourself. Maybe you’ll even find a deep well-spring of inspiration there.

For my own part, things seem to clicking back into place once again. This blog, for instance, appears to be gaining in popularity, if the numbers are anything to go by. I am being sent more books for review. Most importantly, and the reason I got into writing in the first place, is that my inspiration is back, and I have some fresh ideas for new stories, as well as some thoughts on how to revamp the ones I have already written. From the exact angle of time I am writing this blog, things are looking good once again.

Even better than that, FantasyCon 2010 is looming on the horizon (but that’s for another blog-post). Plus I have a few other irons in the fire that, if they come off, could be good… keep watching this space…

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2 Responses to “At bloody last….”

  1. I am feeling the same as you at the mo, Simon – or, as you used to – in that I am plugging on relentlessly with a story which I fully feel is a terrific idea I;m obsessed with working out, but the execution feels below par (if not actual shite)… I am keeping my head down and ploughing through in the hope that, when I reach THE END I’ll read it and a) it won’t seem as bad as I think, and.or b) what is shite will be something I’ll know how to put right. It has always happened like that in the past but one always harbours a nagging if not all-consuming doubt that, no, this time it IS irredeemable poo-poo.

    • For me, what is THE most annoying factor in all this, Stephen, is that I KNOW I can produce more than half-decent prose and put a package together that, even if not immediately an instant hit, can be massaged into extremely presentable. Reading abck some of my writing recently has had me reaching for the nearest bucket…

      I’ll get there in the end though….

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