Wednesday, July 06, 2011

In Search of a Thought

There are times when my mind, for all practical purposes, shuts down. Whenever I finish a book and send it off to the publisher, as I have just done, I go through a period-of-varying-length of what might be considered a form of post partum depression. After spending however long it takes to push the rock of each novel uphill, having reached the top of the rise my mind automatically goes into neutral. That's it. Done now. And I can try as hard as I like to shift it into some constructive gear, and all I get is a grinding sound and the smell of burning synapses.

This condition isn't limited to the period following the completion of a book, of course. Fortunately, it's only a sporadic occurrence, but whenever it does happen, I tend to go into a mild form of panic. I live on a very slippery slope, and once the smallest crack appears in the wall of whatever it is I'm trying to accomplish, I crumble. (I know! I'll write a blog on mixed metaphors! That last one was a doozy.) Suffice it to say the harder I try to think, the less I am able to think.

I'm very big, in these blogs, of "stream of consciousness" writing...just sitting down at the computer and going anywhere my mind and fingers take me. And I sometimes feel guilty for it, thinking that I am somehow cheating you, the reader, by not carefully thinking out what I am going to say before I say it. But actually, that's basically the way I write my novels. I have a general idea of where I'm going before I start out, then just turn it over to my imagination. Usually, it works quite well with blogs, too, and occasionally I am both surprised and pleased by the result. But doing three blogs a week, plus trying to work on whichever book I'm writing at the moment, plus everything else required in the course of living an average day, sometimes gets a little chaotic, and it's usually the blogs that suffer for it.

The perversities of human nature...or at least the perversity of my nature...sometimes makes it so that the more desperate we are to do something, the harder it is to do. Trying, consciously, to fall asleep, for example, almost guarantees that you won't be able to fall asleep. Running behind and realizing that I have to have a blog done for the next day means I won't be able to come up with a really good idea no matter what.

So, having spent the better part of two hours unsuccessfully trying to come up with a subject for this blog, I thought I'd go with the stream of consciousness again. But I've discovered that a stream of consciousness, like any other stream, requires some sort of banks on either side to contain or channel it. There are none today.

I've started out in several different directions, hoping to catch the current of an idea and ride with it, only to find myself in a shallow backwater where clumps of algae grow just below the surface and water beetles scurry about, skating effortlessly on the calm surface.

For me, there's yet another problem. Trying to think of an idea or a blog is like looking up a word in the dictionary; one thought will lead to another, which leads to another, which.... The result being that I never really stop to explore any one thought as fully as I should. I'll flash on one, think it might have some potential, and another thought will jump in front of it, waving its arms and yelling "Look at me!", at which point I'll drop the thought I'd had previously and move on. Perhaps if I were able to develop one iota of patience I might be able to follow a thought for longer than fifteen seconds or, if I've actually started to write something, get further than two paragraphs into it before deciding it wasn't going anywhere or it wasn't as good an idea as I'd originally thought.

Since I've begun writing blogs, I've done...what?...somewhere between 600 and 700? That's a lot of thoughts and a lot of subjects but I'm not even going to kid myself into thinking I'm anywhere near running out of possible subjects. I just wish they'd come in a more organized manner.

So, as I say, I've spent the better part of two hours trying to come up with a subject for this blog. I haven't found it yet. Or maybe I have?

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please come back. And please take a moment to check out for information on Dorien's "Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs."

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