Sitting In The Dark Thinking or Where the Writing Comes From – by John Ringo
Here’s the deal with ‘extended absences from Facebook.’
Writing, for me, is mostly about developing the story in my head. People who’ve kept up with my various postings over the years may remember absences of… well, YEARS when I rarely if ever post.
People think I’m writing. Au contraire. It’s generally when I’m posting on a daily basis that I’m writing.
What I’m doing then is mostly sitting in the dark thinking. About what? About… anything. Various ‘ideations’ of various worlds, stories… Some of them become ‘real’ stories. Some of them never come to fruition.
But even the ‘real’ stories… morph, change, writhe, before they gel into ‘The’ story you eventually see in print.
Forget the grand stories, series, that will never see the light of day (some of which are a true loss as such things go.) There are branches, fractals, subplots, characters, that never make it into the final book. As Bob Seger put it, ‘what to leave in, what to leave out.’
Couple of recognizable examples: Thomas Walker was the MAIN character of a series I’ll never write. The two kids who got knocked up were main characters of a story that I’ll never write (because the universe changed before I started writing) in Black Tide.
There is a series I’ll never write that I MISS. I miss the world of the Copper King. Artu Bartos was an incredibly awesome character. The Black Knives, their eventual fates… This is a world I wish I could have written and brought to life the way I first lived it.
Alas, I lost it much as other stories have been lost. Blame a visitor from Pollock.
What has been happening, lately, with my writing is I keep cutting stuff out. I probably have more ‘cut’ from my various works in progress than I have stuff I’m sure I’m going to keep.
That’s because despite never leaving the house I’ve actually spent too much time socializing. I have people who come by regularly and we tend to sit around and talk. Then there’s things like Facebook, emails, keeping up with news, being part of this big human experiment.
That sounds like a good thing. It’s certainly better for my mental health. But it’s not getting the job done. Getting the job done means sitting in the dark, smoking cigars and living in another world. Going down those alleyways to see if they go where the story needs to go or if they’re dead ends. Going up on the ridge, looking around and going ‘nope, wrong place, bad idea, go someplace else…’
That needs to get done in my head. Which means, sadly, spending less time talking to and communicating with actual human beings.
Thus my recent extended absence which really needs to be more extended.
‘Many people want to be authors. They crave the adulation of fans, going to cons, signing books, being able to work in their bathrobe and getting checks in the mail. Few people really want to be writers. Writers are miserable people who spend most of their time alone, have poor relations with their families and live in other worlds because this one doesn’t work for them. But to be an author you have to be a writer first.’ (Paraphrase of Lois Bujold.)
I’ve been spending too much time being an author. I need to get back to being a writer.
The longer I’m gone, the more you’ll enjoy it when I return from far worlds bringing stories of the adventures there.