Nolan is on Spring Break this week, so I've been working for the first half of the day, and then goofing off with him for the rest of the day. It's been really fun and fulfilling, with some added creative benefits. See, I started breaking this story about three weeks ago, and around the end of last week, I got seriously derailed. I'd reach out into the Mysterious Universe to find what happens next, and I'd keep coming back empty handed.
Since Nolan started Spring Break, though, this structure of buckling down and doing all the left brain stuff in the morning has freed up the right brain (where all the good ideas apparenly hide out) to spit ideas out at me for the rest of the day. We went to see Leatherheads yesterday (I enjoyed it very much: 3.9 muddy olde timey helmets out of 5) and in the middle of the movie, my brain said, "Hey! That problem you've been having? Here's how you solve it!" I had to walk out of the theater for a minute and scribble it down in my notebook.
This newly-discovered schedule is great because it satisfies both the crazy artist who is compelled to create and the responsible father who is compelled to provide for his family. My greatest dream in my life is to finally be able to satisfy both of these people by doing the same thing. The stuff I'm working on right now has a better chance than anything else in recent memory to accomplish that, so it's equally awesome and terrifying.
So far, the writing process for this story is very different from anything I've ever done before. It's a little awkward, but necessary for this particular project. Allow me to explain -- no, there is no time. Allow me to sum up: I usually find the characters, find the "wouldn't it be cool if . . ." and put them together with a very vague idea of where they'll end up. For this particular project, I need to have the whole Big Idea and its various plot points worked out before I can do anything else. I have that, so now I'm looking under rocks and in the couch cushions for characters I care about and find interesting enough to put into this Big Idea. Because it's so different from the way I usually work, I feel like I'm in a bit of a cage that I can't escape from until I find these characters to lead me out.
Hey! I like that metaphor. Go me.
So what was I talking about? Oh, yes. Stuff about the writing process that's probably only interesting to me. Right. Let's wrap up, shall we?
Nolan's Spring Break has given me a great excuse to work hard for a certain amount of time each day, so I can relax and enjoy myself the rest of the day. When I write columns and stuff, a looming, terrifying deadline is just what I need to force the words out of my head. I've only written a little bit of fiction, but I've learned that what works for non-fiction just doesn't work at all for fiction (makes sense, I know, but I didn't grok that until I said it out loud recently) A deadline is important because it keeps me motivated and provides a certain amount of fucos, but sitting down and writing it until it's done, which has worked very well for things like Games of Our Lives and Geek in Review, just doesn't work for [project name redacted]. I'm sure this seems elementary to everyone who has ever done anything like this, and now that I see it typed out here, it seems so obvious that I've considered just deleting most of this post . . . but this was like one of those posters that looks like a bunch of noise until your brain relaxes enough to reveal the space shuttle, which pops out at you in magical 3-D.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have space shuttles to find.