What Do You Mean ‘A.D.D.’?
We’ve all seen the meme that shows a person sitting at a computer diligently staring at the screen, fingers flying over a keyboard with a towering, freshly typed manuscript neatly stacked next to them. The caption reading: “What my friends think a writer does”. The second frame shows the same person completely frazzled, fried, burnt out, sitting behind and staring bug-eyed at the same screen with crumbled paper covering the floor, and utter chaos sprawled out around them. The caption truthfully proclaims: “What a writer really does”. Since I am to write a blog that introduces my upcoming book release, I thought I’d give a tiny glimpse of the actual absurdity going on inside a writer’s mind. * Welcome to the inner sanctum that is my sanitarium.
(* Disclaimer: I never have had the advantage of being ‘typical’ anything, and results in other writers may vary)
I have set aside this Sunday afternoon to write and my husband has vacated the premises. It is 11 o’clock in the morning, and I sit at my computer with an empty Word document ready for writing. Immediately, my cat Ophelia somehow knows. She wakes from her fourth nap and begins her mournful Banshee howling. It is a high-pitched cry that drills through the brain but…she loves me. Ten minutes later, once she has been petted and given treats, she is satisfied I still love her and goes back to sleep. I sit back at the computer to try again; the empty page is waiting.
I think of what the blog is to be about; it is to create interest for the release of my upcoming novel, Tartarus (Bold Strokes Books – December 2016). The book is about Echidna, the mother of all ancient Greek monsters who breaks loose from Tartarus, the prison of the gods. She appears in the modern day Pacific Northwest and vows to hunt down the descendants of her Olympian jailers. Ok. So what do I write in the blog?
Writers of poetry and prose have been influenced by Greek mythology since the very beginning of their existence. Sculptors and painters have all heard the call of The Muses, and have felt Divine hands guiding their creations for over 3,000 years. Why do these stories hold fascination for us more so than any other mythology (aside from, maybe, Christian)? Not being shy with an opinion maybe I should write about that.
I can only talk of how the stories influenced my work. My introduction came at age five, when a family member first read D’aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths to me. The book is an oversized, colorful, watered-down retelling of the ancient Greek (yet oddly enough Anglo-looking) gods and goddesses, and their many adventures. I remember that Pan was always my favorite.
Wait! I could write about Pan. The Demi-god with the upper torso of a man supported by two goat legs frequently appears to me, and always has been a major presence in my life. The bearded face with the golden horns fills my earliest dreams. His image is my first recalled memory, and his attributes have influenced every aspect of my being. Only recently did I discover that he is known as ‘The God of Massage”, as well as being credited as the first Theatre Critic; two ways I have earned my living.
But Pan doesn’t appear in Tartarus; it’s not his story. Pan appears in the book after Tartarus; the one I’m working on now called Shalom Y’all, so it wouldn’t be appropriate to talk about Pan in this blog. The main gods involved in Tartarus are Apollo, Artemis and Zeus with several others making more casual appearances. I could discuss some of the hybrid creatures that come to life such as the Minotaur, Chimera, and Sphinxes (oh my!), but nowhere does a satyr or faun make a cameo. Pegasus, furies, and centaurs; yes, but Pan, no.
I could discuss my theory of how the archetypical Greek gods still appear in today’s gay male community. One only has to look at the Gay Games to see the Jocko-homo of Apollo’s shining glory. Attend any political organization and you’ll hear the chaotic shouts of Ares cracking through the air. Go to any bar to see shades of Zeus licentiously studying the younger patrons. I could do that and continue with the dissection of the six main Olympian gods, and that would definitely be enough to write about. If I only analyze the male aspect, then I potentially run the risk of sounding misogynistic and alienating my female comrades and readers by not including the archetypes of the goddesses. I’m not a woman, and my insight would not be an accurate assessment on their foundations. I found this out when writing a voyeuristic lesbian scene in Tartarus. A man will objectively view a woman very differently from the way a woman views another woman. I learned a lot from having conversations with my female friends, and the section was rewritten several times before I felt it was represented on a fair level maintaining the sensuality of the scene. The idea of comparing archetypes is a huge project, and I should leave it for a larger, more in-depth exploration than a blog would allow.
Back to square one: the empty word document still waiting. Skip the enormous undertaking of exploring Greek myths and turn to the characters of the book. I should discuss a contrast of the characters in Tartarus, and how they differ from the writing of the previous main characters in my first two books (The Jesus Injection, Balls & Chain), the “Agent Buck 98 Adventure Series”.
I could start by defining each main character. Agent Buck 98 is in his late 30’s and is flippant, flamboyant, sarcastic, and an excellent detective for a secret agency. His focus is good food, colorful fashion and musical theatre as much as getting the assignment accomplished. That pretty much sums up Buck. It would be easy to contrast his attitudes with the lead character from Tartarus. Adrian Petrakis is 48 years old, sullen, introverted, dresses casually for comfort, and enjoys classical music. He is an artist on the verge of discovering he is descended from an Olympian god. That’s a good start, but where do I go from there? What about their sex lives? Buck is after someone ‘here and now’. His sexual interests are momentary and superficial. Adrian is fed up with casual encounters, and isn’t interested in App hookups. Adrian is brought out of his reconciliation with bachelorhood only when he meets Zack, a very handsome, older sculptor and sexual tension ignites between them. With the ‘Agent Buck 98’ series, most of the sex happens off-page, while Adrian is plagued with erotic dreams that awaken his sexual appetite, and Tartarus explores that more graphically.
Now I’m analyzing the sex lives of fictional characters. That’s good…for a paragraph, maybe two – not an entire blog. The idea is quickly dismissed. I stare at the blank page and the blinking curser that waits for my command. The black, vertical line pulses at me like the mocking laugh of a Simpsons’ character; “You got Writer’s Block. Ha-ha!” The cat has woken up – the Banshee wailing has resounded. My mind is babbling over repeating suggestions as quickly as it dismisses each one for various reasons. I need the clutter to stop – stop the insanity! My mind, the cat, and Nelson’s mocking laugh are thundering inside my skull.
My eyes tear away from the screen and absently scan the top of my writing desk. I dig through the drawer and find a half-smoked joint and an old Bic lighter. May the gods bless the great state of Washington! If I indulge a little maybe my mind will quiet down, and the evoked creativity will help inspire my writing. Truman Capote, referring to his alcoholism, said that every writer has his or her ‘ailment’. If it is good enough for Capote… The keyboard is slid away and I reach for the instruments of my own vice.
Several hours later I have gotten nothing accomplished on the blog. On the other hand, I have baked and eaten a frozen pizza, let the cat attack a peacock feather until she was finally tired, explored PornHub… thoroughly, and have completely cleaned off my desk by rearranging my paperwork. This was after I reviewed and reorganized my collection of signed books according to size, instead of author and then not liking it, I put them back. I slide the keyboard back into place and tap the space bar to bring the empty word document back to full size.
The cat is crying again. This time it is to remind me that Game of Thrones starts in half an hour. I stare at the blank page. I am defeated for the day, I am tired, and I succumb. There’s time before the blog is due, I can write it later. “After all Cap’n Butler, tomorrow is another day”, and Mondays I am out of my massage office. I shut down the computer and go into the bedroom.
I turn on the television. Ophelia jumps on the bed, glad I’m finally with her, crying for attention and settling down just out of my reach. I know I really should be writing the blog. The joys of On Demand are that I can watch Game of Thrones anytime I want. The chill of guilt starts as I remember the house was vacated so I could get work done.
Suddenly, I have an idea! I should write a blog on the challenges of writing a blog. It’s original, and I think it might have potential. A smile creeps across my lips. I can see ways of mentioning Tartarus and hopefully stirring up an interest before it gets released. I could tie in some of my other writing in the process. I could show how a writer’s mind functions, when trying to create something from nothing, and dealing with the pressures a writer feels when working. That is creative. It might be interesting to explore the random babbling of ideas flooding through my brain. My smile broadens as the possibilities stream before my open eyes. I feel excited and inspired, renewed with fresh creativity.
I reach for the remote to turn off the television, but I am too late. The music swells; the pulsing beat of drums sound, and the whining of string instruments are heard. The flaming Valyrian sword has already appeared on screen, and the scaled down mechanical cities are erupting all over the Westeros map. I settle back feeling the ideas ebbing away, the energy sapped from my body.
“There’s always time to write the blog later. It isn’t due for another three weeks.”
I banish all work with that excuse. I settle in to watch the latest episode. The wheels in my brain are still spinning but with only one burning question now:
“How come I don’t have dragons?”