When Life Collides with Art

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in Guys’ Night Out. Once a month, four of us go out for drinks and dinner. I am the one writer in a group of photographers, although had life not sent me down an alternate path, I could have wound up a photographer myself. I may become one still.

Lee Manning is the professional in the bunch. Drop by his website to catch a glimpse of his work: http://www.leemanningphotography.com/ When he asked how my writing was coming, I told him I’d written nothing for several weeks. I’m opening a second business location in Portland, Oregon. It’s a huge financial risk, and if it isn’t to become a disaster, I have to give it all my attention. I know the caveat about writing daily, but I haven’t enough creative self to spread that thinly. Lee responded by assuring me most creative types find themselves in this predicament at least once, though the reasons are as diverse as the artists. He also said it is a place from which some choose to abandon their art. I’ve given it some thought and I’m sure that’s not yet me.

Once before, I set aside the thriller I’m working on—needed time to do research—and when I returned to the task, the writing had improved. The current hiatus, while more protracted, seems also beneficial. After so much time away, I need to reacquaint myself with the manuscript and I am discovering nuances, seeds for future twists, planted before but now forgotten, that I am eager to develop. At the same time, as I reread these chapters, familiarizing myself with the first 43K words, weak sentences and inconsistencies are jumping right off the page, products, I suspect, of extended proximity.

During all of this, I have continued to make time to “read” audio books. As always, the techniques of those authors—currently, Gillian Flynn and Elizabeth Kostova—tend to refine the way I regard various elements of writing, like scene construction and tension. That brings me to the belief one’s time writing a book doesn’t always have to be spent writing. It can be spent considering plot defects, character development and involving the reader. Perhaps writing for the sake of it—creative drudgery—can even subvert the creative process by extinguishing the spark of spontaneity. Now, however, as I study each chapter, I am growing increasingly impatient to return to the task.

Have any of you found yourselves in similar straits?



3 responses to “When Life Collides with Art

  1. Raymond – I usually write something every day, be it a blog post or journal entry, but generally only work on the WIP four days a week. I need the in between days to mull, refine and recharge my neurons.

  2. Absolutely and when I do start to write again (no matter the content), I find my writing has improved and my thoughts flow more freely.

  3. I’m like Lisa. You need to do other things than write to get your creative juices flowing again.

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