Writing, Not Writing, Seeing, Being
2014 was a low-production year in terms of publications. A new short story, “Covalent Bond”, was published in Room Magazine 37.4. Some of my previously published stories, alongside fellow GoH N. K. Jemisin’s writings, were part of Aqueduct Press’s WisCon 38’s Guest of Honour volume, Systems Fail, It’s been a while, however, since the last new book and because I tend to focus on book-length projects output is few and far between. There’s this weird accelerated push for the next new book that is completely at odds for most writers’ (desired) process– of course I blame capitalism and consumerism! Having said that, I’m still part of the capitalist system and I write books that I hope will sell and sell well. <wry grin>
A bit of a conundrum. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I can’t “force” a book. If the idea isn’t gelling, if the strands do not weave into an interesting cloth, if I can’t sort out my plot, I don’t force my way through. I wait, I mull, I tinker, I start a few other smaller projects (but not too many, because how many incomplete projects do I want for pity’s sake???), sketch, read, research, watch films, no longer drink heady tumblers of tequila….
It will come. The story will come. I hit this wall with every book. And somehow I breach the wall. Or climb over it. Or dissolve it in my sleep.
But holy shit, being on this side of the wall can take a long time, and it can be a downer.
Sometimes the best thing for me to do is leave my messy desk or dusty couch and step outside. To remind myself of the wider organic world beyond my screen and internet connection. There’s more than the perpetual news stream of global suffering. There’s more than the sinking feeling inside my chest. There’s more than ego.
There is body. Air. Fog. The soft patter of persistent rain. A lattice of vibrant life in biospheres both visible and invisible around me. And to consciously recognize my connection to these things is a way to expand my own framework.
The other night one of our heavy west coast fogs cast a dream around the city.
Nights like this there is no need to write story. You can walk through it with your senses wide open.
The contrast of light and dark is a study of life– it is a fundamental way of imagining the world and we recreate it in so many different ways in story. To enter these spaces, to experience them, is an important part of being able to later imagine and word them in unique or memorable ways.
And the living creatures all around. They are near, yet sometimes the eye passes over, does not see them in the urban daily. But they are here. And when I see them it’s as if the city scales that covers my eyes fall away and I’m a creature among creatures once more.
Burnaby Lake in the rain. The parking lot was empty only for the chik chik of juncos hopping from branch to branch. A fox sparrow was virtually indistinguishable among the fallen leaves– until it wasn’t.
Wood ducks roosting in a tree, as miraculous as dragons.
I return to my apartment a little changed. The chest is lighter. The air is sweeter.
Tonight I will dream.