Unleashing the Imagination

My apologies, but I’m not ready with the art for the children’s book slash coloring book slash humorous illustrated rag just yet. So the cover design post will happen likely next week. This week? I’m somewhere between auggh! and hngghh… this morning. My dear lovely husband suggested I write this post last night. I was tired. I decided I’d have more brain-power in the morning. Dear reader, I was wrong.

I’ve been struggling to write for several months now. Moving last year took a lot of the wind out of my sails, compounded by moving into the research job. Don’t get me wrong. I do love my job, and I love that research is something I get paid to do now. But in the interests of not crossing the streams (although if there is some interest in the history of cosmetics? That’s not a topic I think we’ve touched on…) I don’t usually talk day job on the blogs. Anyway, the reading took a dive, along with the creative energy required. I have cemented something I’d learned a while back.

Writing and art (by which I mean making marks on a surface, because yes, writing is an art) use different bits of the intellect. I hesitate to say different parts of the brain, although it would be fascinating to see if anyone has checked to see which bits light up when doing what. Also, the mental image of one of those gadgets strapped to someone’s head while they are trying to write or paint just kicks over my giggle box. Whichever it is, they aren’t co-located. I know this, because I can do both. And I can do them consecutively (but not concurrently) when all is well in my world. So it’s not a one-or-the-other proposition any more than the reactions to ‘an artistic scientist? it’s not done!’ when I was in college were valid. It most certainly is done, and I’m betting there will be oddles (ok, that should be oodles, but oddles is a good word. I’m a little odd, does that make me an oddle?) of examples given in the comments.

There should be footnotes to this post. Ok, maybe not. I’ve been binging Terry Pratchett and the man is an influence. I’d mentioned above that I haven’t been reading. I meant by that I hadn’t been reading fiction, by and large. I’d been plugging through various non-fiction books, but fiction? Not so much. This last week, I was under the weather. A cold, not the Dread Lurgy, although at this point you’ll have more and more trouble telling one from the other, but that’s a topic for a ‘nother day. When I’m sick, I binge-read. It helps me escape the dull misery of illness and get into someone else’s imagination because goodness knows mine is dragging along behind flopping lethargically. Specifically, I was binging through the witches. There are some forty books in the Discworld series, but you don’t have to start at the beginning and go right through. I didn’t. I first discovered Sir Pterry with Going Postal, and the sub-arc of Moist. My second sub-arc, and one of my favorites, was the Watch and Vimes. The others I really love are DEATH, and now?

I spent two days reading all of the Witches sub-arc. I realized I had encountered Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax at points in reading the other books, but… look. Back in my day, sonny, you read what you could get your mitts on. None of this log into Amazon and bobs-your-uncle you click one button to buy the whole series and then your app presents you with the lot of them lined up neatly in publisher-recommended (1) order. I have Sir Pterry’s books on my bookshelves (er. Figure of speech since half my library is in boxes and elsewhere) as I found them. I even have treasures of hardbound versions imported from across the Big Pond.

Where was I? Oh, yes. I hadn’t read the whole of the Witches sub-arc. I’m in a position where I can’t spend all the money I’d like on books (I’d need a bigger house, to begin with) but I certainly can buy three or four modestly priced ebooks on a whim. I could have done the longer, more painful process of dipping into KU to try and find something worth reading. I didn’t have the patience. I wanted reliably good – it’s not that there aren’t good reads in KU, it’s that there are so many books out there, and Sturgeon’s Law applies. Sir Pterry is reliably brilliant.

The end result of that, and of my commitment to write every day in 2022, is that my writing brain is creaking back into motion. No idea what happens next. I’ll let you know when something happens that isn’t basically a writing exercise. Like the words, I’m working on the muscles, and as a metaphor it’s not a bad one. I’m slow, achy, and when I do squats or stretches, more than a little creaky along with some popping noises that mildly alarm the dog. I give myself a month, at least, before the words start to come a little easier and walking a mile doesn’t leave me feeling spent.

I’ve taken the leash off the imagination and am letting it run wild. Later? Then I can put it back on lead, and let it know it’s time to work, and focus on a specific plot it needs to sniff out. Until then I’ll just keep amusing myself. And there may be footnotes.

(1) Unlike the Chronicles of Narnia, which really ought not to be read in chronological order because you’ll understand much more if you come to the Magician’s Nephew later in the reading rather than possibly spoiling some of the magic of The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe.

14 comments

  1. I haven’t Pratchetted in much too long. I’ll do something about that once I’ve finished with Liaden , , ,

    I have trouble going between writing and doing covers. I have to derail the brain with math, then get on with the other. Beats me why. .

  2. Stories are shaped by people. You can watch it happen in fairy tales. Italo Calvino commented on how a tale can not move to a new region without showing a sign of it.

    1. I remember reading a paper where they tracked when language diverged and separate based on which fairy tales showed up.

  3. Pratchett was one of the authors that either his stories worked for me (Guards, Susan/DEATH(1), Moist, Tiffany) or didn’t (most of the Rincewind and one-shot stories). The Witches stories occupied a very odd space for me-the early ones were good, the later ones just seemed like they were trying to be far too clever for their own good. But, I also know that Pratchett was one of those writers that was a duck-calm and serene above the water, furiously paddling underwater, and that shows in his writing.

    (1-And, f(YAY!)k it, “Thief of Time” isn’t a good end to the Susan stories. I wanted to read more, especially Susan starting to defrost a little bit in dealing with her own heart.)

      1. Rincewind was far too much the older parody character that Pratchett had started out with, and it didn’t blend well with the rest of the world he created. And, it very much didn’t move well as the world did, Rincewind was far too much a one-note character.

  4. I understand. I can’t write a darned thing now. Too many other things goin on in real life that take up time and energy.

    I’d like to escape but I just can’t seem to.

    I remind myself that it will come back. Meanwhile, I plod forward.

    1. I’d be interested in “A History of Cosmetics”. It’s such a broad topic: body paint for warriors and rouge for courtesans and everything in between.

  5. I’ll happily read your essays on the History of Cosmetics, as well as anything else you write. 🙂

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