Writing is a process that delves deep – we all know that – but it also integrates. Let me give you an example.
I’ve recently finalized a “good-stopping-point” draft of my many-times-mentioned medieval historical novel. Then I took a couple of days off to twiddle thumbs and bwadda-wadda my lips with an index finger – you know, mindless semi-activity. After that, it was on to something else to write.
What was I doing through the months of writing, other than productive wordsmithing? Was I in post-mss breakdown, writer’s fatigue/block, and all that? Nope. I’d been reading David Mitchell and Roberto Bolano, f’rinstance. And I began watching a series of tapes on quantum mechanics (C’mon! Can’t I have a hobby?)
I didn’t have an idea, though, of what I was going to write, other than needing some short stories to flesh out a collection that will include a novella. But what to write?
The collection is a creepy-crawly sort of thing, the novella about a writer who is mentally ill and who struggles to continue writing. So the story I first came to had to have that sort of sensibility. And what did I come up with?
A story about two men who have a common female lover, how their mundane lives change because of her, and keep on changing. It’s called “Complementarities,” after that notion from quantum mechanics: a situation in which different observations of the same thing can’t be measured in the same way. Too, I’ve been haunted by Bolano’s style of stories within stories within stories.
Next story? Maybe something like Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. But then who knows what I’ll be influenced by before I get that far.