Monday , April 15 2024
If he listens very carefully these days he's able to hear the sound of voices in his head that were silent for far too long.

Where Have All The Voices Gone?

Once upon a time there was a writer named Gypsyman. In the merry month of November he set himself the task of writing 50,000 words and taking a big first step on what he thought was the road to novelhood. At the end of November he was delighted to find that not only had he achieved his goal but he had exceeded it by half as much again; ending up with 75,000 words.

Oh he was very excited than. He started December with visions of book contracts dancing in his head. He would spend the next month finishing his first draft, and then January would be taken up with the edits. By February he would be ready to start sending out cover letters and chapters for publishers to read.

All was going along swimmingly for the first week of December, the words kept coming and the writing was good. But then something happened and a day occurred when nothing was written. He told himself that it was all right because he needed a rest. But the next day it seemed harder to start writing again.

Day after day he would sit down at his laptop and the magic was gone. The voice in his head that had been telling the story was all of a sudden quiet. He searched and he searched and couldn’t find it again. The harder he listened the quieter that voice got and the louder everything else sounded.

No longer could he just sit down and recount the adventures of the people who populated the world he had invented. It was as if they had ceased to exist for him. He felt like his best friends had abandoned him.

He puzzled and puzzled, not knowing what to do. He’d sit and he’d stare at the blank little screen watching the curser blink. Oh boy did he curse her that mean little flirt, who taunted and teased with her promise of words, but never delivered.

His anger and frustration grew and grew, until they were like a little black cloud that hung over his head. Lightening bolts and thunder rattled and roared, but it didn’t help any, just rattled the floors and shook all the doors, until he grew tired and the laptop got bored.

As the weeks of December crawled past like glue he started to fear the little grey machine on the table. Every morning he’d approach, turn it on and begin. He’d write about things that he could post on a blog, but once that was done he couldn’t go on. He’d say I’m too tired; I’ll shut down for a time.

He told himself he would try again latter that day, but something came up, and it got put aside. On most days for the rest of the month things would come up that stopped him, until he began to think that he had given up.

How many times before had he started a novel and gotten only so far before it expired. His despondency grew as he thought about it. Were these projects just the idle dreams of the person not willing to do the hard work of writing? Wasn’t a writer supposed to chain themselves to their workstation even when the words weren’t flowing like water? He tried to do that but it wouldn’t make the words come any faster, in fact it seemed to make it harder to hear the voices of the characters if he tried to force them into existence.

He had no expectations of some mystical muse whispering in his ear, but he at least wanted to be able to see and hear in his head what was going on before he wrote it down. Up to this point he had been able to know how his characters would react in any given circumstances and that allowed him to write about their adventures.

His best tool for creation had been his ability to daydream about the characters and their situations. To just let his mind wander freely through their realm and their lives and come up with scenarios that would advance the plot organically and interestingly. In order to do this though it meant that his mind had to be clear enough for him to t drift around other thoughts and not let them be a disturbance.

No sooner had he started to run into problems then this ability began to retreat. As his confidence ebbed and doubts started forming his brain started to fill with more and more noise. The cacophony became so bad that any number of thoughts could be vying for precedence at any one time preventing the clarity of thought needed for writing.

Half of the noise was caused by the inability to write. Insecurity and desperation make such a din in the confined space of one’s head that it’s almost impossible to hear anything else. Or the things he used to try and shut them down were just as defeating for creativity, so he’d end up in the exact same situation.

Compounding the problem was that as he would lose creative focus, he lost focus period. He could be trying to think of one thing, and all of a sudden he would find that he was thinking about something completely unrelated to his original thought. Stray idiotic thoughts careened around like bumper cars, barging in on private conversations causing confusion and consternation.

Maybe some writers can thrive in circumstances like those but not Gypsyman and he spent December trying to write with little or no success. He didn’t even understand what was going on for the longest time. Than one morning after writing his report for the blog he realized how far he had drifted from his original intent for writing.

There was a story that he wanted to tell that was growing in his mind. Nothing else should matter except that. He was allowing ideas of publication and final drafts to clutter his head with unnecessary noise and confusion. He had forgotten that things couldn’t happen overnight.

To have expected himself to finish a first draft by the end of December was ridiculous and unfair. By setting unreasonable and almost unreachable goals for himself, Gypsyman had created the circumstances that led to his being unable to write. The sign of an inexperienced writer, or any type of artist for that matter, is they will unwittingly sabotage their own work by expecting miracles.

Perhaps it’s ego that makes them think that just because professionals who have been writing for years and years take upwards to a year to finish a project, it will only take them a couple of months. Their eagerness to write makes them their own worst enemy.

Once upon a time in a land filled with wet snow their lives a writer named Gypsyman who is more then halfway through his first novel. He hopes that he can finish a first draft of his novel by the end of February, but knows that it won’t be the end of the world if he can’t.

If he listens very carefully these days he’s able to hear the sound of voices in his head that were silent for far too long. It’s like the return of old friends. If he treats them with the respect they deserve, who knows they may even stay around for a while.

About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of three books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion" and "Introduction to Greek Mythology For Kids". Aside from Blogcritics he contributes to and his work has appeared in the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and has been translated into numerous languages in multiple publications.

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