Last week, after I explained why there will be a change in the nature of the Wednesday Wanderings, one of the “ghosts” expressed puzzlement as to why writing a relatively short essay each week should be an issue for a professional writer.
Here’s what I explained to her. The biggest difficulty is the “brain space” that gets occupied coming up with topics for the posts. As soon as I finish one, a corner of my mind is taken up with searching for the next topic. Seven years ago, this was relatively easy, because there was a whole sheaf of things about me, my writing, my habits (which often spill back into writing) that were unknowns. These days, someone could probably construct a moderately interesting biography of me from the over 360 Wednesday Wanderings posts alone – not to mention what’s in the Thursday Tangents and Friday Fragments.
Consequently, ninety percent of the topics I come up with are dismissed as “that’s too close to what I did back a few months ago…” and so get discarded.
But this time I’ll allow myself a repeat. Most writers learn that they have only so much “writing” in them on a given day. That amount can be built up over time, with practice, but whatever that amount may be is finite. When the well is dry, the well is dry.
Over time, I’ve come to feel that what the well holds is not so much word count as inspiration. If I exhaust my inspiration coming up with blogs, then it’s not there for writing fiction or even for proofing and editing fiction. And unlike some of the other things I spend time on – reading, craftwork, gardening, even working on the role-playing game I run – writing blogs dries out the well and doesn’t do anything to fill it again.
That’s why possible topics from you are welcome. If you’re shy (like last week’s ghost) or feel what you’re interested in asking is too long for a Comment, you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A secondary consideration in why I’m backing off a bit on the Wanderings is that I have always tried to provide a quality discussion of whatever my topic is. Maybe it’s the latent English professor in me but, whatever the cause, that’s how I am.
I realize my approach may not be in keeping of the nature of the “blog,” as opposed to older forms of communication media. The other day on a prominent SF/F website (which I shall forebear to name), there was a featured post by a novelist regarding her work and research habits. It was so filled with cutesy slang and so lacking in any real substance that I had to force myself to finish it.
(I forced myself to finish because I couldn’t believe a prominent site would publish such a vacuous piece, so surely this must develop into something. It didn’t.)
When I finished reading the blog in question, I felt as if I’d eaten a stack of puffed rice cakes. I was “full,” but I didn’t feel at all satisfied. And then I started feeling annoyed that puffed rice had been offered as if it was good quality food.
This week’s photo is of Guns, the anthology edited by Gerald Hausman, to which I contributed the short story “Choice of Weapons.” In the course of coming up with that story, I had some interesting ideas for another one… Reading the stories and poems in the anthology has given me more food for thought.
So, what fills your creative well? What drains it?