Monday, April 6, 2015

A Matter of Forced Perspective

Hello folks,Mark here with a few idle thoughts about the love hate relationship all writers have with words. I have been chasing words all my life; a perplexing, rewarding, exhilarating pursuit. I cannot recall a time when I have not 'written' something. The files on my school computers are chock full of lesson plans, unit plans, academic profundity that would take reams to print. I think I am doing the world a favor by keeping those bits code. 😄. But over the length of my career, I have also amassed a decent volume of my own stuff.  There are a handful of old notebooks containing a very bad cardboardish attempt at an epic fantasy, a number of short stories and quite a few poems.  These works comprise my loose compositional biography. Over the years, I have always let inspiration guide my fingers to the keys, pen or pencil. I think that makes me a lazy writer in the sense that I have not followed all of the 'rules' one finds permeating social media these days.

I accuse myself almost daily of lacking discipline.

And yet, as I loiter here in the sunshine of Arizona, I think I need to give myself a break. You see, April finds me at the end of a long winter of discontent (thank you, Bill S, yet again), during which all progress on almost every project has become stalled. My teaching career and role as dad and husband have taken precedence over plot line, poetry and characterization.
I have been reduced to taking notes, lots of notes full of good intentions...and then nothing.
I have a tan line in April, but no revised manuscript. I have sweated away a winter's worth of stress in a week, but have made no further progress on novel four. Before this week, I felt guilty, word-silent, out of the loop from all things audience and publishing. I had begun to despair of ever recovering what my editor calls "mojo".

But I think I will be okay, and it is not because things will slow down once I return to the grind. If anything, the schedule and pace of life will get faster and more full. No, the reason I think things will be fine is because I got a text message from my neighbor informing me that our 18 year old family pet, a calico named Angel, has passed over the rainbow bridge.  She had been fading for weeks, so I was not surprised.  She was especially mine, however, and there is sadness. But there is also a tingle that previously has betokened productivity.

You see, I have written Angel into my fourth book, Pevanese Mosaic,(partial at 60k) as a character. She is a companion to an important figure in the story, and, laugh as you like, I think I need to finish it for her.
So I will.

I now feel this last winter of stoppages rather than progress will turn out to have been good for me. Events unforeseen forced me to take a different perspective on my goals and timeline for achieving them. I think I have faced some hard truths about my words and my life that leave me wiser for having explored the darkness.  There are textures, even in sadness, that lend themselves to the light.
We might wallow in our despair for awhile, agonizing as once bright ideas grow stale and lifeless through neglect, but if we are lucky we realize new and better ideas or ways to move forward. Perhaps those early images were meant to weaken and fade.  Perhaps.

As for me, I feel new words bubbling up from the froth and will look forward to where they lead me. Stay tuned; it could be a wild ride.

Mark Nelson


Terri-Lynne said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Angel, love. I am, however, glad you'll use this sorrow in a productive way. I love that you're putting her in the book, and that she will drive you to finish it for her. Love, love, love it.

I seem to be the opposite of most other writers I know, in that when I'm busiest and most stressed is when I am even more determined to keep writing. In some very bad times, it has kept me sane, that's for sure.

I eagerly anticipate your mojo-i-fication!

Anonymous said...

Mark, I'm so sorry about Angel. That's wonderful that you are going to put her in your book.

There's discipline in writing, but the truth is, the mind has a path of its own, and that path must be respected. But why am I telling you this? You already know it, better than most. Thank you for another lovely post. Many hugs to you and your family.