Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Obsession of Writing, or: Returning to a Blog

Okay, confession time: I’ve been uninvolved with this blog for a while. 

But why?

Let’s go back to the reasons I started it.  The “inciting incident” was to  share my excitement behind the publication of my novel, The Man Who Loved Alien Landscapes, but I also wanted to express many long-held thoughts on writing, science fiction, popular culture, film, graphic novels, photography, travel—all topics I’m fascinated by.  

So what took me away?

Simple! I was writing a second novel.

And when my focus on it, my drive and my interest, all became intense, I sacrificed the time on the blog to stick with just the creation of the book.  

I had little power over the choice. I was hooked on writing that novel, very much “in the groove”—rushing forward like a speedway—in deep point-of-view, deep story, Deep Creation.   

Because of my teaching schedule at Seton Hill University, I usually restrict my writing to the summer months.  I’m not good at writing just two hours a day and then “shutting it off,” going on to other things.  I get possessed by it and then can’t let it go:  I’ll write in the morning, write in the afternoon, write in the evening, then get up in the middle of the night and write some more. I’ll stop only to eat or go to the bathroom or if my muscles start cramping—and when I get up to move around, I think about the book.  

I remember a story about Picasso who, once he really got into working on a painting, would sleep in front of it so it would be the first thing he’d see in the morning, and he then could attack it immediately. I used to think that was a conscious choice based on strong dedication and duty.  But no. You have no choice. You get so obsessed, the work’s always on your mind. Even when you’re not actively thinking about it, it’s still cooking inside you, as if the novel takes over and starts using you—you’re just a laborer, a servile lackey, pure working class, and it writes you

You sneak away from conversations, wander off during television commercials, write notes on ragged scraps of paper, napkins, paper towels (Stendhal wrote on his fingernails).  It sucks you in, like Poe’s maelstrom. 

And you love it! 

Or, you’re beyond love. You’ve been deconstructed and rebuilt into a writing demon. 

And when all that occurred last summer, for it certainly did, I simply had no mental room for a blog.  Nor for taking trips, cutting the grass, doing home repairs, or maintaining connections with family and friends. 

Well, okay . . . maybe it didn’t go that far, and I still performed my school duties (I needed the money).  But otherwise, I was possessed. 

And the great reward was that the novel kept getting better, deeper, fuller. I was completely caught up in its world, traveling along inside its story, viewing another planet through my characters’ eyes, struggling with weird alien threats, haunted by mysteries, driven by longings. 

Remembering to sleep was like breaking off a love affair.  And a blog? Sorry! Not now, not yet. 

But I’m finally back, because—cheers and flag-waving!—the book, In a Suspect Universe, is done!
And accepted! At the publisher’s! With advance copies to be available at Seton Hill on June 22.  

More on that later. A lot more.  

But for now, know, till the next creativity-wave knocks me over (and it’s already starting), and for now, the blog is back!  

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