I am a Gemini. I have always known my soul is faceted, my spirit fragmented in many parts. I am the twins. I am the wise child and the simple son. I am the one who succumbs and the one who resists. I am also a product of a childhood built upon Disney and Tolkien: there is good and there is evil, and they are disjoint and easily distinguished.
And yet, as an adult, I now wonder: how different are they? And am I not both?
Have you ever started writing with a point in mind, and noticed by the time you finished writing you’d never really gotten there? Earlier this week I wrote a post about mourning monsters–reflecting on the inspiration that childhood pastimes like Pokemon and Digimon gave me (and continue to give me)–but that hadn’t been my intent.
Not my original intent anyways.
Instead I wanted to write something wild. A story of man against nature.
I lack the gravitas to make light of a serious situation. More so I lack the gusto to make a light situation serious. Yet of late, lightness has ruled my days: Against my own wishes, I have slept in later than desired all week, and once I’m awake, old obsessions mesmerize my mind and threaten to steal every ounce of sanity.
Perhaps it’s my summer sloth slowing me down, or perhaps there’s more at stake.
And when that web came, I got caught up in it. No matter which direction I pulled, the strings held me back. Each crystalline thread became a chain, and somewhere just out of sight, I knew there was a demon lurking waiting to wrap me in its poison, and swallow me whole, my lungs still full of air, my heart still beating, still bleeding.
No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape. I could change my perspective, look up or look down, turn my eyes and scan the horizon, but I was still tied in place. Only if someone could come and cut me down would I be freed from this torment. Only if I there were someone nearby.
But for all I could see, I was alone. There was no one.
I know it’s been a while since I wrote any fiction, but I had no idea it was all the way back in March when I posted my last short story and only in April when I wrote my last writing exercise. It seems so vacant, thinking about things now, how I’ve gone so long without writing. It’s been nearly as long since I’ve written in my journal, come to think of it. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why I’ve felt so disconnected and lackluster of late. Without writing, my blood turns stale and lifeless. With blood follows breath, and then the rest is listless emptiness.
This next prompt came from the chapter in “Method and Madness” on showing and telling, those oft-cited glories and errors of skillful storytelling. “You’re telling too much,” he might say of a boring and cumbersome passage, or perhaps “Show more,” she’ll advise after reading the same thing. We would think that telling is dangerous, that without telling writing is automatically uplifted to the realm of perfect prose, but that would be mistaken. Just as I always advocate a pronounced state of balance and moderation, the same applies in writing: Too much showing is just as baneful as too much telling. This exercise will help us get down to the bottom of why.
I love music. Have I mentioned that before? It seems like no matter my mood and no matter what emotions are plaguing me, there’s a song for that. I love walking around campus with my earbuds in and my iPod on. Somehow tuning out the world to my own personal soundtrack makes the world open up: I see details I wouldn’t normally see, I get inspired in ways I wouldn’t if I just walked normally, listening to the wind.
Songs inspire me. They narrate my life. And occasionally I find a song that resonates with me so perfectly for a time I play it on repeat until the words are burned in my cochleas like the frozen waves of arctic oceans. What better way can I show my love and appreciation for these songs and the artists that made them than by writing about them?
November is a time of great feats, and great drawbacks. There’s a few little monsters, however, that are especially pertinent this time of year.
The first is the will to write. It’s a monster worth riding, a monster we want to tame and take under our wings, squeeze the ink from his fountain-pen claws and write masterpieces while he suffers (which in turn is our bliss, but the imagery isn’t as sound as when I started, or at least not as sound as when it started in my head). Other times, the will to write is our master. These times may feel like he completely leaves us, but in truth he’s still there, waiting to strike, waiting to let us capture him again.
It’s all about taming this monster. It’s easy to let him go, to let him wander away, but it’s much harder to get him back. A steady mind and a steady hand and a determined spirit are best when taming this one. Sometimes we may feel it’s best to leave him be, and it’s probably those time when we need steel ourselves the most and reel him back in. The will to write is ours, but only if we catch him.