Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Problem of Too Much Imagination

What is the one thing writers like to believe we have in more abundant quantity than anyone else?  Imagination.

It's imagination that drives us, that creates these crazy stories we just have to share.  Some of us even like to brag that our imagination is so over the top that our friends and families would have us committed if anyone ever got a real peak inside our skulls.  Unfortunately, there can be a problem when one's imagination begins to intrude a little too much on our lives.

Yes, some of us are so enamored of our ideas that we jump from one idea to the next without ever pausing to put an entire story down on paper.

That's where my weakness lies.  Writing is, for lack of a better analogy, daydreaming on paper.  Honestly, it's one of the best things about being a writer - I can stare into space and let the loony tunes play out in my head, and when someone asks me what I'm doing, I can respond with some bullshit excuse about mapping out plotlines or developing my characters.  Since a story that stays in my head can spin off in any direction I want, I like to leave it there sometimes, play around with it, and then maybe come back to it later.  That way we don't write ourselves into a corner where we have to rip up 75 pages worth of stuff to get back on track(not that that's ever happened to me...mine come out perfect...fine, believe what you want).  However, to those of us who like creature comforts - like food and shelter - we need to find a way to get others interested in our insanity, so much so that they'll actually plop down a few bucks to get the whole thing from us.

I'll be writing a great story, and yet, as invariably happens to all of us, I'll hit a road block at some point, or it'll seem a bit stale.  When that happens, my brain wants to say, "I know what'll keep us fresh.  We'll just create a new story and you can play around with that for a while!"  Of course, we'll get to a part in that story where we'll get bored, and our brains will try to distract us again.  This endless loop has been  the bane of a lot of writers, many of whom have a few dozen half finished manuscripts lying around that'll never get finished, much less see a book store shelf.

I've enjoyed writing my current novel, Wrongful Death.  However, the potential sequel to Akeldama kept popping into my head, so much so that I even wrote a query letter for it.  Keep in mind that I'm working on something else, and this potential new book hasn't had the first page written yet.  I thought, Well, maybe I could just write a few pages to get it started before I go back to what I should really be working on.  What could it hurt?

Here's what it could hurt - the completion of Wrongful Death.  And this isn't the only time with this book, or with other works, that this has happened.  I have a faucet full of ideas that want to flood the bathroom of my mind, so I've had to shut it off at the source.  I'm intentionally shutting down new ideas until my current project is complete, including initial editing.  I'll be walking my dogs and something interesting will come into my head, and I'll force it out.  Yes, I might write down a keyword in my journal to remind me to expound on it later, but I deliberately leave it nebulous.  I did the same thing during Akeldama and Salvation Day as well.  I have ideas for full length novels for at least another five stories, plus innumerable more that could be short stories.  However, if I let them take over, I'll never finish what I start.  My mind might have all these great ideas, but if I can't finish one at a time so that someone else wants to hear them, I might as well sit in a corner all day, drooling and babbling incoherently to myself.

On the other hand, that's not much different than what I do now...

1 comment:

  1. I was going crazy until Google brought me here. Loosing sleep because at the end of the day my brain just wasn't tired... I lacked a creative outlet. All of the things I wanted to do like wood working or sculpting are too expensive. All I have to do is write. Who cares if I don't get published. Thanks dude. Bein' all Inspirational and shit.