The Trenches

Remember that quote I couldn’t find in my Origination of the Idea post? Well, I found it this morning while perusing some of Neil Gaiman’s essays. This particular one was actually titled “Where do You Get Your Ideas?” In the interest of giving credit where it’s due (and also because I much prefer his version to mine), here’s the quote:

“You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we’re doing it.”

Anyway, the rest of the essay’s worth checking out, as is the rest of Mr. Gaiman’s site for that matter.

I’ve been devouring writers’ blogs recently I think as a method to combat the loneliness I’ve been feeling as of late. With the exception of November and, on a smaller scale, April, dedicated writers are hard to come by. Those who are dedicated during April and November often lose dedication on Dec./May 1, and even the majority of those who plan to continue writing fail to do so.

Beyond that, whatever mystique a writer gains with friends and acquaintances tends to subside to annoyance, skepticism and/or apathy once they realize what you’re doing isn’t a phase or a hobby (assuming it’s not). It’s hard to explain justification for turning down various social events because you’ve scheduled time to meet a self-imposed deadline for work you’re not yet being paid to do.

The questions about what you’re writing tend to grow more sporadic the longer you do it as well, I’ve found. The glamour fades with the mystique, and soon you’re lucky to get a perfunctory “How’s the writing going?” And that’s OK. I’ll admit I’m not the best at inquiring about my friends’ various hobbies/passions/work lives either. Once it becomes accepted that it’s what you do, it becomes the norm and thus much less intriguing.

So what does all of this mean? It means I’m in the trenches. I’m between major projects, revisiting old ones, planning my next, big exciting one, for which the writing won’t start ’til November. And so, while writing is nearly always a solitary endeavor, I don’t have the adrenaline of a shiny, new project to balance that out at the moment.

The upside is that I think I’m coming out of the funk. I started my read-through of Tea last night (which is what I wrote for Screnzy), and it’s a lot better than I was expecting. I have a feeling it’s going to go downhill fast once I pass the midpoint, but knowing that it has potential to be fixed and not permanently shelved is pleasing.

I’ll close with a passage from Samuel R. Delany’s About Writing (a book I plan on purchasing in the near future), excerpted on Neil Gaiman’s blog earlier this week. (Wow, can you feel the love today, Mr. Gaiman?)

Writers are people who write. By and large, they are not happy people. They’re not good at relationships. Often they’re drunks. And writing — good writing — does not get easier and easier with practice. It gets harder and harder — so eventually the writer must stall out into silence.The silence that waits for every writer and that, inevitably, if only with death (if we’re lucky the two may happen at the same time: but they are still two, and their coincidence is rare), the writer must fall into is angst-ridden and terrifying – and often drives us mad. (In a letter to Allen Tate, the poet Hart Crane once described writing as “dancing on dynamite.”) So if you’re not a writer, consider yourself fortunate.

And if you’re not a writer but know one, feel free to send them prayers, good thoughts, karma, conversation or cookies. We need them from time to time.

One thought on “The Trenches

  1. hmmm

    “Writers are people who write. By and large, they are not happy people”

    This must be the problem to my lack of writing! I’m too happy! I’m too good at relationships! Oh wait…no I’m not very good at those at all so scratch that! 🙂

    I quite enjoy your post today, very insightful. Hopefully your trenches aren’t too deep and they’ll be easy to pull out of. Being in between projects is never a fun thing, eager antipation for the next big thing, mourning the one that’s over. Maybe that’s why I hardly ever finish anything. I think what we need to do is go back to our weekly writing sessions. That would help us both, if only we could find a time that actually works!

    Keep your chin up, few people can say that they’ve written 3 screenplays and 1 novel in a years time. You’re doing awesome you know.

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