Suffering from a case of creative vertigo

June 12, 2014

Although the market I work in is small comparatively speaking, I’ve seen too much reality in the last six months as to the ugliness mankind is capable of and need a foray into my imagination for just awhile.

I’m a storyteller … it’s what I do, and the only difference between myself and most others is I happen to have made a conscious decision the voices in my head weren’t such a bad thing. We all have them, it just became clear to me at some point they might actually have something to say instead of serving as just a distraction or psychological diagnosis leading to an involuntary vacation in a room with no view.

The problem for me is I’ve lost touch with that side in the last six months and the ideas, inspirations, conversations, and characters are all piling up, creating quite a logjam, all wanting to force their way to the front at once. There just isn’t enough room for it all, considering I write as a journalist as well (and my boss would be the first to tell you I range far and wide, beyond the scope of my job most of the time, tackling issues which need to be tackled, but maybe just not as laser focused as I prefer).

Somehow I have to ground myself, find a way to balance the reality and the fiction. It’s that balance which keeps my head in the game.

This makes me a walking contradiction because I wilt in highly structured environments, hate schedules and appointments, and prefer to live as the wind blows. Living without putting words to pages, describing scenes as they play out in my imagination, and driving a reader in the direction I want them to go is a contradiction in itself, because as much as the process of creating fiction is about me, the end result isn’t … it’s about the reader.

We all have to have balance in our lives, some more than others, balance of family and work, work and play, disappointment and joy, just to keep perspective. Until the last few days I hadn’t realized what my issue was, why I have been feeling so off kilter, and I realized the writing I do for me, well, I hadn’t done any in months, a truth I am ashamed to admit because it’s an admission of self-disappointment.

When I was completing my second novel, The Good Reverend, I struggled more than most people would ever guess, wanting to grow as a writer and storyteller, hoping to hone my craft even more. I didn’t want my ability to produce and sell the first to be a fluke. There were times I would stare at the screen for hours, willing it to happen and the answer was always an easy one. It just took a couple of years for me to realize what it is I had done.

What I needed was seclusion, no outside interference, no phone, and — if someone happened to be there for that few days — quiet, just ignore me, don’t engage me and leave me be until I wrangle everyone back into their proper places. Then the words flow … and I need them to.

I am on the verge of completing two more novels, which if you know me I rarely ever like my work, but these two are special, to me if to no one else. Creating from nothing is difficult, creating from nothing while on your ear is next to impossible.

I am suffering a chronic case of creative vertigo without a prescription in sight.