The Flow

I used to be an avid motorsports fan. I thrived on the exploits of Dan and Mario, Bruce and Denny, Jody and Giles, Keke, Niki, James, Alan and Alain, Aryton and Mark. I still keep abreast of it, but it’s become a complicated relationship.

I was recently reading Mark Hughes at MotorSport. He’d written a mid-season recap of how Formula 1 teammates fared in qualifying against one another. About one driver, he said, in essence, that the driver was still correcting and reacting to the car, that he hasn’t been able to get into a flow with driving it.

That’s how I often feel with creating a novel. Days come and go where I feel like I’m chasing the scenes, acting, and reacting. I’m not able to get ahead of it. I blame the muses for not showing up, for mumbling guidance, changing their minds, or disagreeing with one another, trapping me and my writing in their battle. But then, building on experience and effort, suddenly I fall into the flow. You know the flow when you’re there. Time and the world seem to vanish, because you’re inside your creation. Scenes spin into being like magic. Dialogue leaps into your head and onto the page. Decisions are made; you hold your breath at what’s happened, and walk away spent.

Today’s session isn’t a flowing session…yet. The muses seem to be sleeping in. Every sound from grinding to talking heard in the coffee shop feels like a personal assault.

The flow doesn’t always come easy. When it does, it’s a spoiler. Yesterday was one of those days. I walked in, sat down, wrote, edit, revised, cleaned it up, and departed. See how that would spoil me?

Time to put my head down and try again to write like crazy, at least one more time.

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Keep Paddling

Well, I’m up the creek. No, it’s not a creek, but a river as wide and powerful as the Amazon or Mississippi Rivers.

It’s all about writing, of course. I’ve used many metaphors to explore and explain my writing ventures, progress, and process. All of them, despite being disparate, are correct and accurate. My writing processes changes as I go through different phases of conception, imagining, creating, writing, editing, and introspection.

Paddling on a broad river seems the correct metaphor, simile, or analogy for now. I have a firm idea of where I’m going, yet currents attempt to pull me into different directions. Swirling eddies trap me with bursts of vacillation about which way to paddle. Right now, the river of words and ideas are bright and shiny. Sometimes, though, the sun goes down. Moonlight and starlight might help then, but sometimes, I’m alone out there, lost in darkness, on the river alone.

Muses often help me out, throwing lines, shouting directions and encouragement. So does the habit I have now of reading interviews with published authors in my quest for a quote. Many of those writers have tales of being out to sea, up in the air, trudging through a hot, dusty desert, or locked in solitary confinement. They write about writing for themselves for years, sometimes being published but with little to speak of in the ways of sales or recognition. They continued writing because they’d discovered the joy of writing for themselves.

Then, suddenly, bang, an agent signs them. A publisher publishers one of their novels. A rave review punches through the public’s consciousness. An actor, director, producer, studio head, whatever, reads their novel, buys the rights and makes it into a movie. Overnight, they’re a sensation after years of writing for themselves.

The joy of writing for myself can’t be overstated. I’m on a river now because while there’s sounds and sensations, I’m mostly in solitude, communicating with my muses about where I’m at, what I don’t like, and what I do enjoy. I’m going with a flow. Although it might not seem like it from everything else written above, it feels like a process flowing with quiet confidence and satisfaction.

Your results and processes are probably different, of course. Or perhaps they’re the same, or you see some nugget of yourself in the now of your existence, doing similar to what I’m doing. No matter how your process works or changes, I wish you well on it.

The coffee is gone. Time to pack up and head out for a sweaty walk in the hot sunshine. It’s been an excellent day of writing like crazy.

Cheers

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