Tag Archives: Gnomes

Getting in the mood

Over the years there’s something I’ve noticed about writing. It might not be true for everyone else but it certainly is for me. I find writing requires a certain mindset, a certain state of being. You really do need to be in the mood. But the mood for writing is something intangible and fleeting. It can be upon you in an instant like a summer storm. In that time a deluge of ideas will fall upon you. Inspiration will flash like lightning across your brain. You’ll feel as if there is no single being or obstacle in the entirety of creation that can stop you from writing the greatest work of fiction that man will ever read. You’ll dash upstairs to the computer or lunge wildly to the biro by the fridge, snatching up the envelope that the water bill came in. You’ll ready yourself to slash that pen across the page like a sword across the heavens. You’ll touch it to the paper and then…nothing. It’ll be gone. Just like the storm it will have passed, there wont be a cloud in the sky and the only reason you’ll even believe the storm happened will be the lingering wetness of your clothes. There’ll be little traces of the ideas you had, the ghosts of genius rapidly fading second by second. You’ll but down the pen and it’ll all seem futile and pointless. The mood’s gone. No writing for you. Not today. No matter how hard you try you can’t conjure the mood, just like you can’t conjure a storm. Unless you’re a wizard, but if you’re a wizard you’ve probably got better things to do than write fiction. Like fighting dragons or battling that warlock in the next valley who borrowed your spell-book and never gave it back; bastard.

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The voices inside my head

Occasionally I try to write things. Most of the time I don’t have much success in making a great deal of headway with these sorts of projects. There’s usually a brief flurry of activity as my keyboard takes a massive pounding. Before I know it I’ve got a couple of thousand words sitting in front of me. Then the bright supernova of verbiage winks out. Then there’s nothing for months, sometimes years. It’s always a cumulation of factors that seem to get in the way. I’ve got to go out. I’ve got to do something else first. I can’t be bothered. I’m ill. My computer’s covered in bees. The list is endless. Then there’s the old chestnut writer’s block. Most of the time it feels quite a bit bigger than just a block, it tends to feel more like a mountain. A mountain that is continually falling on my head over and over. I tend to find I get distracted easily as well. I just start making some headway with one idea and then another pops into my head that DEMANDS immediate work on it. Then the whole cycle starts over again.

Out there in the arid badlands of the internet there’s a motley assortment of websites and/or blogs offering tips on how to overcome these bugbears. Some of them are helpful, other just utterly shatter everything you held to be true and make you want to weep in the corner while eating all the pages out of your notebook. But all of this rambling is largely peripheral to the point I’m slowly meandering my way towards. I find that a good, solid point needs to be approached with a running start and a fuck-ton of inertia, just in case it tries to fight back. I call this the super tanker approach. Once you’ve got yourself going you’re not going to stop even if you realise later on that you probably should. On one of my many journeys across the internet badlands I found one of the aforementioned sites. One of the things they recommended was giving your writing “a voice”. For one reason or another they thought it was a splendid idea to create a little compartmentalised identity in your head which did all the writing, not you. I suspect they meant just giving it a funny accent or a couple of textual idiosyncrasies. I think I went too far.

Now I’ve got a tiny little gnome living in my head. He’s called Hieronymous P. Taber and he pumps steaming, hot gouts of “what the fuck” through my fingers. He dodders around the musty cave of my skull in a little flat cap and pale blue dungarees. His beard’s shot with that sort of iron grey hair which suggests he’s probably getting on a bit but isn’t yet past his best. The pumping’s all done by a big set of bellows that are all covered in soot and grease and no matter how hard Hieronymous tries it gets everywhere. He even carries a little tartan hanky to wipe it off his hands and face. He drinks tea out of a jam-jar and smokes dog-eared cigarettes rolled in greaseproof paper.

And that I think adequately demonstrates that I tend to over think things and how easily I get distracted.

Mind you, Philip K. Dick used to claim his writing was the result of a big pink idea laser that god shone into his brain. On second thoughts, I don’t think that helps my case.