Thursday, February 23, 2017

Getting Out of Your Own Way, or Inspiration on Its Own Terms

I have spent the past two months doing the requisite publicity campaign for The Return of the Raven Mocker, my ninth Alafair Tucker mystery. This entails guest blogging and running hither and yon making personal appearances. Early in my career, I spent a lot of money on out-of-state book tours and conferences, which don’t seem to produce a return commensurate with my outlay. However, it can’t hurt to get yourself out there, right?

For the past few years I’ve been forced by circumstance to curtail my out-of-state travel, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. So I flit about in Arizona, which is the best I can do right now. I had a short respite last week, when I was able to stay home and do nothing but write on my tenth novel for five days in a row. It was great. The rest of this month and the next I’m back on the road.

I wish I had the money, time, and freedom to travel for my own pleasure, like I used to. Europe was my playground when I was younger. Now I’d give anything to be able to travel to India and Vietnam like a certain couple of blogmates of mine, one of whom wrote about her adventures yesterday (see below). Barbara’s experience of having an entire plot line spring forth from her overtired brain is so familiar. Anything that screws with your thinking processes is really good for getting out of your own way. In my experience, if I start trying to figure story lines out as though they are math problems, I end up like B’rer Bear and the tar baby in the briar patch, all stuck and unable to find my way out.

I have had some of my best ideas while dropping off to sleep or coming slowly awake in the morning. Or when water is falling on me or otherwise making me wet—in the rain, in the shower, in the swimming pool. I’ve heard other artists say the same. What is the mystical property of water? Water muses? Ozone? It’s best not to try and analyze it, for success can’t really be duplicated. Even if you do feel like you have to wear your lucky socks every time you sit down to write.

Genius comes when it will. I remember a story that Lawrence Olivier told about a particular performance he did of Lear that was so brilliant that the audience was left gasping. After the play was over, he went to his dressing room and trashed the place, because he had no idea how he had done it and knew he’d never be able to do it again.

I’m still waiting for that to happen to me.


Rita A. said...

I like the water connection. They say that water is a conduit for spirits. So why not consciousness or a universe connection to inspiration. It does seem to inspire our minds, perhaps because it is calming. Enjoyed the post.

Donis Casey said...

Rita, I totally believe that water is a conduit for sprits.