I am spending this weekend in Toronto, where I am attending the World Fantasy Convention, probably my favorite of all the cons I go to each year. It’s a working con, what some call a professional con — most of the con members are professionals: authors, editors, agents. People come here to catch up with old friends, to do a bit of business, and to talk shop. I wish some of my MW friends were here with me, but as it is I’m getting to see folks I haven’t seen in way too long.
And I have needed this kind of a weekend.
I have been remarkably unproductive in recent weeks, for reasons that really don’t have much to do with writing. Suffice it to say that life has been leaning on me a bit more than usual. I’ve been distracted, thinking about whole gobs of what I’ll call “stuff,” because this is a family-friendly site, and the word I want to use is less family-friendly . . . Some of it is work-related, most of it is not. The bottom line is, I’ve been struggling to get myself in front of the computer.
So let me begin with this: I want to apologize to all of you for the many times I have told you to put your butts in the chair and write, as if that’s all there is to it, as if the only thing preventing each of us from writing that great story we’ve been looking for is will power and bit of time. Sometimes we can’t write, not because we’re blocked, or because we lack the passion and commitment, but simply because there is other stuff we have to do and deal with. Life, which can inspire, which can guide us, which can be the source of so much that is good and fun and exciting, can also be complex and unforgiving and, yes, distracting. I should know this without having to be reminded. I’m very understanding when my wife or my kids are having these kinds of days. I’m less forgiving of this sort of thing in myself. And I fear that I am too glib and facile when it comes to doling out advice. So again, my apologies.
The truth is, I know that if I could write, I would welcome the diversion, the outlet, the catharsis. I’m certain that if I could make myself start a story or book, I would throw myself into it, drawing upon everything that’s churning inside of me right now. I can almost imagine how good that would feel. If only I could do it. If, if, if.
So what am I doing about this? Well, I would love to tell you about these cool techniques I’ve learned for channeling all of my churning emotional energy into positive artistic output. But I haven’t learned any. Instead, though, I tried something this morning that has me thinking creatively for the first time in several weeks.
I have lots of discarded projects sitting on my computer’s hard drive. Actually, “discarded” is probably the wrong word. I haven’t discarded them so much as I’ve set them aside and then forgotten about them, like a child distracted by shinier, cooler toys. And today, I’ve been reading them, rediscovering the creative spark that first got me excited about them. One of them is a pirate short story that I started around the time Misty and others were submitting stories to the Rum and Runestones pirate anthology. At the time, the Thieftaker books were still set in an alternate world, and so was this story. Ethan Kaille, the hero of the Thieftaker series makes an appearance, as a younger man, still in uniform. But the POV character is a pirate named Corinne Bissiri — the so-called “Ebon Blade.” Here’s the opening:
If Corinne had known that so many people would come to her hanging, she would have worn the red doublet instead of the blue. She’d chosen the blue because it worked well with grey, and it was always overcast here in Belsan. But the red was bolder. It made a statement.
“Next time,” she muttered, looking out over the rabble and turning her neck slightly so that the coarse rope wouldn’t chafe so.
I love those opening lines. In fact, I love the entire story, at least what I wrote of it before abandoning it. Why did I give up? Well, I was in the process of giving up on the alternate world approach and turning Thieftaker into a historical, and while converting the novel proved easier than I had expected, this piece couldn’t be saved, at least not as a Thieftaker story. But now I’m wondering if I can use it in some other way.
After reading the story, I turned to a novel idea I started working on several years ago. Again, I LOVE the idea, which is unlike anything I’ve worked on before: a futuristic urban thriller with SF and fantasy elements blended together. I really like the first few pages I wrote before giving up on it. Most of all, I am infatuated with the main characters, whose sketches I read earlier today. So why did I give up on it? I’m not sure, really. I have a lot to learn before I can write this one — lots of research to do. But really, I think I just got distracted by other projects.
The point is, though, that looking at these old projects has been like rummaging through my imagination’s attic and finding forgotten treasures. I don’t know if I’ll rework either of these stories. What I do know is that reading through them has kicked my mind into gear again. For the first time in weeks, I feel like writing, and that, is a very good feeling indeed.
David B. Coe http://www.DavidBCoe.com http://www.dbjackson-author.com http://magicalwords.net