by Gun Brooke
It is entirely possible, for me, to have tons of ideas swimming in my mind along with enough characters to populate half of my home village, and still be unable to write. It’s as if there are too many choices, too many variables, and too many plotlines. It’s not writer’s block, per se, it’s writer’s inundation. Like an engine being flooded, if you will. It happens to me every now and then, usually if I’m already sort of weakened by fatigue. When the neural pain strikes, I can most often use the writing as part of my pain medication system. I write in a frenzy, and enter a fiction-induced realm where I feel, but in a way don’t feel, any discomfort.
So, you can imagine how thrilled I am when my mind can’t seem to sort between the multitudes of ideas. No characters among the crowd of personalities I harbor (does sound like a psychiatric diagnosis, doesn’t it?) step forward to claim the lead, their way into the limelight. I brood, start chapters that only read like utter nonsense, and I try not to panic. I sometimes go through writing exercises to try and jump start that elusive, stuck up and high maintenance muse of mine, let’s call her…Lucille. As in “you picked a bad time to leave me…” A friend of mine put it “just write, Gun, anything—just…puke on paper!” Oh, my God. That’s a vision that will keep me from writing for days, if not more, despite the fact that I understand what she meant.
Last time the writer’s inundation happened, which was particularly worrisome since I had a good story going. I had the characters and the beginning written, and it felt like I was totally out of my league. All sorts of ideas merged, separated, jumbled, and basically scurried around like lemmings on speed. Still I had no clue what should come next in the story, not to mention further down the line. I nearly went bald for tearing at my hair, I kid you not.
Being the born procrastinator, like so many of my breed (authors), I sulked and moped, and surfed the Net. Facebook, hello to everyone, evening paper, nothing interesting, checking my email, again, and on to my Tumblr account, back then a new thing for me. Found a lot of familiar usernames there, people I’ve come across when I was more active with Star Trek Voyager fan fiction, so I browsed some of their dashboards. Stumbled upon someone who stated they wrote Devil Wears Prada fan fiction.
I came to a halt. My mind stopped whirring like a half cranked up old-fashioned alarm clock. I tilted my head, squinted and tried to picture the pairing. Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), editor in chief, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), fresh out of college and working as her assistant. On a whim, I read the story I found – and that was it!
My muse Lucille crossed her legs, assumed the perfect image-of-a-fantasy-secretary position and began to take mental notes with her pink illuminated feather-adorned pen. I hadn’t watched Devil Wears Prada in three-four years, but only two (2!) days later – voilà – Swedish television aired it, I think, for the first time. “A sign!!!” Lucille squealed.
I watched it with some of the stories I read in mind, and I experienced a feeling that is close to falling in love. I get like that when I am enthralled by a story. After reading some ‘MirAndy’ stories that people online recommended were among the must-reads, I knew I had to try my hand at this fandom.
Lucille actually insisted, loudly and in no uncertain terms, that I do. She claimed to be bored out of her leather mini-skirt, and if I didn’t shape up and find her something to work on, she would find a cave and join a family of bears.
The joy of writing, when writing is not a chore, but a lust filled feeling that sends endorphins sizzling along your nerve endings, is like a drug. Which takes me back to the beginning of this blog entry— can writing be used for medicinal purposes? J I don’t mind doing the chore of writing most of the time, as long as I hit this ‘writing-high’ every now and then. It’s what keeps the process new, fresh, and enticing, for me. I mean, if it didn’t bring us writer’s joy why would we put ourselves out there by scribbling page after page?
I can’t say that the fan fiction approach would work for every writer struggling with lack of inspiration, writer’s block, or whatever keeps them from feeling the joy of creating—but it does work for me. When your equivalent of my Lucille sits up, raises her hair to uncover her ear, bends down and presses it to the ground to listen to the stampeding ideas…that’s when you need to chance it. Write anything that tickles your muse, no matter what it is; poetry, fan fiction, letters, short stories, children’s stories, any genre that delights you. I mean, hell, us authors should be able to turn the darn grocery list into a work of art if need be! Chances are that it will not only get you and your muse back on track with each other; it might just alleviate any pain.