Thursday, October 14, 2010

Swoop and Strike - the Inspiration is Back!

I woke up, and four months had gone by. I barely recall writing my last blog post in August! In fact, it wasn't until I saw my name in this most recent edition of Crime Time, a CWC publication, that I remembered I had a blog at all!

I haven't been away from the writer's arena (though I haven't actually been as close as I would like to have been). I've been to a couple of writer's events, I've been emailing and chatting with other authors, I've been reading (kinda), and November's Fusion Fiction event has never been far from my mind.

But last week, it occurred to me: I used to be a writer. Somewhere in the haze of the last four months, I forgot how much I actually like writing. Not the waiting, the sighing and the wondering about that Big Break, of course - but the actual process of writing.

Think of it. Creative chemicals burble and mingle in the back of your mind, synthesizing and reacting just below the surface of consciousness. The process could take months. It could take mere seconds (as in the case of the Mummer series). It could take seventeen years - as in the case of my latest, Her Poison Voice - which I first wrote as a two-act radio play in 1993. But the process never shuts off. It's palpable, it's frustrating, and it's invigorating.

Suddenly, two ideas fuse together in the atom smasher of the writer's mind - sometimes with a click, sometimes with a crackle, sometimes with a billowing shockwave and a lot of dust.

Then comes the artistic urge. Sometimes it swoops and strikes, assailing its unsuspecting victim with a flurry of scenes and snippets of dialogue and mischievous plot twists. Sometimes, dog-like, it walks alongside, or dashes on ahead at the end of its leash, leaving the writer to run and stumble behind - and often comes to an abrupt and inexplicable stop to sniff some other interest. And sometimes, like a sulking cat, it hides on the top of a bookshelf, out of reach and glaring, aloof and untouchable. But it's always there, watching, teasing, whispering.

And then there are those golden moments when all synapses are alight at once, and the writer's expanding mind encapsulates a complete and animated world. Vivid characters interact with objects tangible only in the imagination; sights, sounds, smells, textures, physical actions and reactions - all become fact in the writer's mind, yet remain just malleable enough to bend to the plotting will.

But imagination is one thing. The true thrill of writing is the ability to take what is in my mind and accurately replicate it in yours, with no other resource at my disposal but the words I chose.

To see the quirk of a smile in the reader's lips as they read that perfect comeback, or to have the reader criticize the characters' decision - as if the character had made the decision himself! - or to have the reader feel a certain sense of homesickness when the book is read and laid back on the shelf - that is the thrill of writing. (Assuming, of course, you're lucky enough to watch someone reading your work.)

The ability to transmit accurately an idea or an emotion and somehow touch another person on a personal level, using nothing more than words...that is what I aspire to achieve. And that's what I've been missing these last few months.

Boy, am I glad to be a writer again!

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