Monday, October 28, 2013

The Creative Process

Working on the novel
While trying to figure out whether I wanted to try my hand at freelance writing as a source of income, I realized that I was becoming gripped by the overwhelming urge to FINALLY finish the science fiction novel that I've been sitting on for the last 20 years. It dawned on me over the weekend that if I were to write a mere 3-4 pages each day, a very do-able target goal, I could complete the story by January 1. I started the year with only 70 pages, but thanks to a brief spurt of writing at the beginning of the year, and my recent spurt which I hope will become a more sustained effort, I am now at the halfway point to my goal of writing a 300-page novel. Assuming that I can complete this novel, it is my intention to one day write a complete series of ten novels based around this main character, with this current work being the third of the ten books in the series.

Every time I complete another page I feel a jolt of excitement course through my spine. I feel like I'm finally getting closer to finishing a goal which actually has meaning to me. It helps to add depth to my self-identity in a way that just working for a paycheck does not. Of course, having said that, I am still worried that I may starve or be kicked out on the streets soon. And, I am still diligently trying to find a paying job that will satisfy my financial/survival needs. However, one of the main reasons I began this blog years ago, and the main reason for returning to college, was to chart my progress as I attempted to transition from a lonely, scared, and depressed guy into a man who can successfully set and achieve realistic goals for himself, and live a better life. Admittedly, the current state of the economy and job market has made that more difficult. But, finally being able to complete a project that I had essentially put off for so long would be hugely gratifying.

One of the main regrets, among the long list of regrets that is my life, is that I wasted all of the downtime I had while working in radio. I could have easily completed my novel, or gone to college part time, or both, in the spare time I had while working overnights at the radio station. I regret that it took falling in love with Ex, and then losing her, to finally give me the momentum I needed to change my life and accomplish the goals I wanted, perhaps even needed, to complete.

While writing this weekend, I remembered how this whole novel began. The character was one that I created in high school. The character's origin story, which I wrote in my junior year, is a rough 20-page story that really doesn't do justice to the story I wanted to tell, and one which I hope to eventually get around to rewriting properly. However, one day I was sitting in a record store in Cameron Village, back when record stores still existed, and I sat down to listen to The Beatles' album Revolver. It was the first time I had ever really paid attention to the lyrics of any Beatles songs. When Eleanor Rigby came on for the first time, my mind took over and created an elaborate scene, a picture of disorder and chaos in a destroyed apartment. I recall feeling a rush of excitement similar to riding a roller coaster as the scene swept over me. I immediately played the song over and over again, trying desperately to burn the scene into my memory so that I could get home to commit it to paper, back when I was still writing by hand on paper.

I knew immediately that the scene that my mind had revealed to me was going to be the beginning, and, to some degree, the end of the story I wanted to craft. But, the problem was how to get from A to Z. Over the years, I have typically written a page or two here and there, establishing checkpoints for the story which I have used to guide the writing of the novel. It has always felt as though my brain crafted the entire story on that day at the record store, but I have been waiting all of these years for the story to be revealed to me. Now that I have half the story written, I feel like I am closer than ever to seeing the full story in all of its depth. I wonder if this is how people who claim to have been given visions from God experience them?

Of course, my greatest fear in all of this, and perhaps one of the reasons that I have never attempted to complete the story until now, is that once the story is finished others might not gain the same emotional impact from the story that I have had, as I have carried it with me for all of these years. There have been moments when I have been writing where I have literally broken into tears at the realization of the story that I was writing. Make no mistake, this will not be a feel-good novel. You won't be cheering for the hero at the end, and you won't walk away feeling like justice was served. This story is meant as part of a greater whole, wherein the reader will get to see a hero fall to a considerable low, so that he can eventually rise back to a considerable high. At the end of the day, I want readers to feel satisfied by this novel, even if it doesn't make them feel happy for having read it.

It is interesting that once you delve into the creative process, the ideas begin to flow like rain, so much so that I had difficulty sleeping last night because of all of the various scenes racing through my mind vying for attention. I don't think I've ever had a creative spark this intense in the past. I just hope that I can sustain it long enough to finally complete my goal. I have never wanted anything as much, or for as long, as I have wanted to complete this novel.

Although my longing for Ex does come a close second.

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