Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mulling

Hi folks! Please allow me to introduce our Guest Blogger for this Sunday. Simon Wood hails from the town Slough, just west of London in the UK (as opposed to London just west of Toronto in Ontario) and currently lives near San Francisco with his wife, several dogs and any number of cats. He has just had a novel released, We All Fall Down -- which I can heartily recommend. Information on his new book, writing, life and all those sorts of nice things by visiting his website: www.simonwood.net.

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"What are you doing?"

"Something."

"Well, it doesn't look like something."

I had a lot of conversations like this in school with teachers that usually led to one of those "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of lectures. Sadly, my footwear never came with "bootstraps," so needless to say my school years weren't my best. Daydreaming was an issue that I didn't shift until I went to college. Now the daydreaming is back--in career form (of sorts). Daydreaming is even tax deductible. You just can't daydream without a bag of Ruffles in your hand.

Now that one book is in the bag and I'm embarking on the next, I'm in that daydreaming faze, where I'm piecing ideas, themes, scenes and other stuff together before I start outlining.

Normally, when Julie comes home at night, I'm banging away at the keyboard and she knows her little man has been hard at it since 9 a.m. At the moment, when she comes home, I'm stretched out in front of the TV with a cat or two on my chest.

"What have you been up to today?"

"Working."

"It doesn't look like you're working. It looks like you're vegging out."

"I'm being conceptual. I'm forming a story, wrapping my head around the idea. You know me, measure twice, cut once."

"So it's been a DVD day."

"No, it hasn't." I sit up and a kitten slithers off my chest. "I have been working. I'm mulling things through is all."

"Simon, what's that pile of Dr. Who DVDs sitting on the floor?"

"They help me mentally cleanse my palate."

"And this empty Ruffles bag?" she says, picking it up.

"Brain food." I snatch the bag from Julie and aim a sleepy kitten at her. "Julie, you have no idea about the creative process. I am mulling. Mulling is an important part of the writing process. Now move, I can't see the TV."

Julie's an angel, but she can be mean sometimes--don't you think?

The problem is that we live in a quantifiable world. We need results. Tactile ones at that. When I'm in the throes of a book and Julie asks, "How much have you done?" I can answer, "Twelve pages," or "Three thousand words" or "Two chapters." These are things the world and Julie can hang their hats on. Me included. I like quantifiable. There's traction. Forward motion. Progress. Industry. A paycheck.

Mulling doesn't inspire the same response. Mulling is intangible--like air. It's there, but you can't see it. But just try and go through a day without it, and you (and I'm looking at you, my old teachers and Julie) will be begging me for some of that intangible stuff. Yeah, too bloody right you will.

So I'm mulling and I'm going to take my time with it. There's no point in going off half-mulled. That would be ridiculous.

I think I've explained myself sufficiently. Now where did I put my Ruffles and those kittens?

Yours in front of the TV,
Simon Wood

7 comments:

Simon Wood said...

Thanks for having me here. :-)

Camille Minichino said...

I'm glad to know about Ruffles addiction, Simon. I'll take some to your next signing. At least it's an uncontrolled substance.

Camille/Margaret Grace

Rick Blechta said...

Simon,

Great post! Thanks so much for contributing. Just finished Paying the Piper. Absolutely great!

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

Yes, I know this mulling business. I've been doing quite a bit of it lately. Maybe a couple of kittens will help my process. Great to have you, Simon.

Donis Casey said...

Half-mulled is my continual state, especially while 'writing'. Things do eventually become mulled, but how it happens, I do not know.

Simon Wood said...

One tries...

Rick Blechta said...

I remember a classic story about "mulling". It involves Arthur Schiff who died not that long ago. Don't know who he was? Ever see a commercial for Ginsu knives? Do you know that phrase, "But wait! There's more!" Those were both thought up by copywriter extraordinaire, Arthur Schiff.

Because he was so successful, he was hired by an ad agency who paid big bucks to get him. On one of his first days there, the boss walked by Arthur's open office door several times and always found the same thing: his high-priced copywriter staring out the window while he smoked a pipe.

Finally, it all got to be too much. The boss barged into the room and barked, "I'm paying you a lot of money, and all I'm seeing is you looking out the window!"

Arthur turned, took his pipe out of his mouth and calmly answered, "I'm thinking. This is what thinking looks like."

The boss never bothered him again.