Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Wandering Mind

Having an active imagination and being able to channel a wide-range of voices is not a talent only for Psychic Readers on the first floor walk-ups of Pre-War buildings throughout in NYC, it's also what keeps us writers in business. Unless of course you're the type of writer who fashions themselves after Hunter S. Thompson, spouting your observations like a deranged Issac Newton, you need to keep dipping your feet in the flow of stories that spins through the cosmos of the collective human conscious. However, doing this can be a dangerous swim if you don't remember to tether yourself firmly.

One of these dangers is the age old and ever-true proverb that the grass is always greener on the other side. Often for me, I will be mucking about in the waters of a story and suddenly there's the sound of happy noisy splashing off in the distance. I recognize the sound. It's the call of another story, a completely different one than what I'm slaving away on and boy, oh boy, does it ever sound fun. It always sounds a lot more fun than what I'm currently doing, because it's easy to convince myself that somehow that other story isn't work. This is where that tied lifeline comes in handy - if I wander away, it yanks me right back.

Experience has taught me to ignore this Siren's call. I've learned that it's not automatically the the song of some sweeter story. Usually, it's a simple case of laziness steering me away from the real nuts and bolts of the craft. An intense amount of discipline is required in order to be an "author" because an author is a person who writes when they may not feel like it. This is one of the hardest things to master about being a professional writer in my opinion. I also believe it's one of the main obstacles that derails many young writers. You have to stay focused and determined.

I no longer follow the allure of the next story like I did when I was 18 or 20 or even 22. Now, I sneakily listen and steal notes from it, but don't dive in. The rare exception is when the story I'm currently working on has reached the point where I'm convinced it's utter crap and I have to cut that lifeline or drown. But as long as I still believe in the idea, the characters, and the basic intent of the story, I finish it first. That other story isn't going anywhere. It'll be there waiting for me. And more than likely, as I get into it, I'll hear that noise again...but I'm prepared for it.

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