Connecting with the Work

by Chris McMahon

First of all – hi everyone! I hope you all had a good break over Christmas and New Year and Santa brought you what you wanted. I also hope you enjoyed the previews of the The Calvanni that I put up on the site over the last three weeks.

Getting back into things after my recent holiday, I was recently reflecting about getting back in touch with the work. There is nothing like a break to help see things in perspective. I particularly enjoyed experiencing the Fijian culture first hand. Travelling with a young family I can’t say I had too much time to laze around, but we certainly saw a lot!

It made me realise how all of the practical aspects of being a writer – finding the time to write, sending things away, dealing with rejections, grappling with the new electronic media and related promotion – can take you away from the work itself.

It’s nice to be able to push all that extraneous stuff aside and emotionally connect with the story itself. I think you need to do that to reach that wonderful state where things just flow. There are all sorts of ‘ways in’ to the work, and will probably depend on what sort of writer you are – and what the initial conception for the work was. That first ‘wow’ lightbulb moment when you got the rush of inspiration that ended up in the short story or novel that you are working on.

For longer work particularly, it’s easy to get bogged down in all the rounding out that needs to occur. The initial impetus may have arrived in the form of a neat character, a setting or a new SF idea. From that starting point all the rest of  the story needs to take shape – fully fleshed characters with a convincing purpose, an integral setting that relates to the story, the conflict that drives it – the various arcs of the plot. Depending on how far these elements are away from the initial conception they can be hard (but necessary) work.

When you feel like it’s getting blood out of stone – or slogging uphill in knee-deep mud – think about how the story started. Let yourself break through the shell that has hardened around your idea and feel that initial inspiration all over again. Or at least that’s what I am trying to do.

How did the inspiration for your current WIP arrive?


  1. Wow, that was a long time ago.

    Umm, I invented a Medieval village. And when the “Real Writing” wasn’t working, when I had an idea that wouldn’t stop bugging me until I wrote it down, a character that just didn’t fit, a really dumb idea . . . into the village with it!

    So pretty soon the village had two gods (small g), one goddess, a retired Evil Wizard, a mayor who was a dragon stuck in human-form, Witches that didn’t have anything more to do with men than they had to (and young ones who did like the idea), and Mages who acted like women weren’t necessary. Two, count them, two Lost Princes.

    And then I spoke disparagingly of letting Muses get uppity and in control.

    I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’ll never do it again! Please! Isn’t twenty rough drafts of novels (and lets not even count the short stories) enough?

    Eventually the Muse relented, and some other things have been sneaking in. But while they’re cooling down . . . back to the village. Ah, C’mon. Cross dimensional sugglers, no problem, but … on horseback?

  2. Hi, Pam. That village sounds like a lot of fun. With that bunch of characters, you could not help but have some very amusing conflicts and alliances.

    How do the two Lost Princes get on? Those guys are usually prima donnas – must almost be like a cat fight, but with gold-and-jewel encrusted swords and lace-up breeches:) I would imagine at least one of those minor dieties would have a Trickster streak as well.

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