Seriously, Story? Get Out of My Head! And Then Writing With That

So this was me a few days ago.

I already know that I need to work on my collaboration, but I have this story idea. It was supposed to be a minor one: one of my old usual one-off post stories I’ve made in another forum but something happened.

It’s not an unfamiliar feeling. I found myself staring at a blank screen. The story was there–mostly clear in my head–and I was looking at this screen and became very aware of the fact that I needed to move my hands to write the thing into existence. If I didn’t move my hands, or find the energy, this story would not exist at all.

So I switched away from my writing screen because I got tired of looking at it and vowed to go back and do something with it later. I was in the mindset of that I needed to get this story done so I could do my other work. So I sat at the screen again and condensed what I knew of the events into a post. I had a lot of details that I also needed to keep track of and I didn’t write them down because this was supposed to be a one-off story and it was also supposed to be one bloody post.

This occurred on and off for three days or so: with fits of procrastination and writing some posts for this Blog. The story sat in my head: sagging under this heavy weight that was beginning to put me into a very autistic or at least one-track mentality. I guess some would consider it borderline obsession, but the fact was I couldn’t ignore it and it was too big to warrant one post.

All right, fine. You win story. I’ll give you more room. So finally I started writing it and once I had that first line, I thought, “Okay, now I know you will get on the page.” I even changed one of the main character’s names as I wrote it and it worked. I had everything figured out more or less. So you think that it was smooth sailing from there, right? Right?

The answer is no. Hell no.

Then I found myself making more names. The next thing I know I am calling up back-stories and keeping them in front of my eyes like translucent membranes while writing character dialogue and interaction. After I made my first post, each one came slowly and methodically with many pauses in-between as I had to keep my concentration and self-discipline in line.

Before I know it, my one-off story has a whole ton of world-building behind it for something that was supposed to be a somewhat intelligent parody of a genre. I mean, I was prepared for the fact that I was layering my story and the nuances of my characters, but this was getting ridiculous: fucking ridiculous. I used to be able to write several pages of interactions in a day and I was getting bogged down because I wanted it done and out of the way so I could move onto other things.

I had to fight with some depression: with the possibility that no one was going to read it, with asking myself if I was just trying to impress people, with the fact that it wasn’t going to be any good, and the fact that I was spending way too much time and effort on something that should have been a one-off and very few people are going to see anyway. But I was also asking myself why I wanted to make this story. What was so important about making it and placing it where I did? And that was when I realized something: that sometimes when I create, it’s not a river rushing through the structure of me, but it’s me fighting against myself.

Basically, I was fighting against myself: trying to overcome myself to finish this story because I knew that once the damned thing was done, I would feel a lot better. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that sculptors sometimes beat the shit out of their clay to make what they want. It is just as much frustration as it is a need to create.

And I’m using profanity for a reason here. Creating can be tedious but also an ugly, messy business that tears into the blackest, dirtiest, filthiest parts of your psyche to express something from inside your mind into words. Sometimes, as I wrote this thing, I thought maybe I’m old. Like I said, I used to write several pages a day of things but my brain also likes to keep making things intricate and build-up a conflict to the boiling point.

Now, once that build-up was finished and I got to the action, I actually moved pretty fast and was caught up in the moment. It was so strange. Before this, it was like I was boring holes into a blank screen with my eyes–willing something into existence–and actually feeling my head get congested and feeling heat radiate off of my body as I sweated. It was like that energy kept ebbing and waxing–like I was visualizing something inside me consuming itself–until, finally, I found that rhythm and I just felt that creativity blaze inside of me again.

At one point, I had to eat voraciously because I had burnt that much heat moving and squirming around. But by that point, I was almost done the entire story. And when I did, I felt this tremendous sense of relief. I overcame myself. I’ll tell you, I don’t always succeed in overcoming myself but it is always feels like a success when I do.

Of course, I still feel like writing more things. I also have to remember to pace myself and not rush matters. There are other things going on with my life that also contributed to my sense of needing to do my primary work, but I know that I can’t put all creative and personal facets of me on hold to work on one thing, and I shouldn’t. I put pressure on myself. But at least, even though it may have been an engineered battle in my head, it was–this time–a battle that I didn’t lose.

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About matthewkirshenblatt

I am a writer and blogger living in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario in Canada. When I'm not writing for the Sequart Research & Literacy Organization and GeekPr0n, I tend to write science-fiction, epic fantasy, horror, literary and mythological revisionisms, and generally weird fiction stories though I have been known to make poetry, television and comic book scripts. Also, when left to my own devices I tend to write weird and strange hybrid creative opinion piece articles like those you will find on this Blog. I am also very interested in comics, video games, Star Wars, table-top role-playing games, Neil Gaiman's works, H.P. Lovecraft, vampires, zombies, and budgies.
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