© 2013 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee
” The blank mind stares you in the face…what to do?”
Writing Life: No Reason to Procrastinate
Writers. Truth be known, it’s becoming ever more apparent we’re a strange bunch, –although admittedly creative. We write, struggle, procrastinate, drink too much coffee, and have an unquieted thirst for knowledge. We may appreciate news, drama, foibles of human nature, even foolishness at times, but above all else, life. We observe and write simply because we love to, no matter the topic. Bitty-small, large or megalithic, hot or not, ideas of all descriptions flood the creative mind, ideally overflowing onto paper and screen alike. A veritable river. Alas, the same creative mind arbitrarily and inexcusably shuts down, goes on sabbatical, or even an extended vacation…usually at the worst possible time. The blank mind stares you in the face, what to do?
When creative pickings are slim, fluff just doesn’t cut it, disappearing into that big hole in the sky. Some ideas are fleeting, disappearing before being fully understood. Has that ever happened to you? Some are static, almost motionless, akin to a slow river, forget that idea, I don’t have waterfront property to stimulate the mind. Lazy ideas move, with the lifelessness of deadwood. Really bad ideas cause even more procrastination; they drift until they become waterlogged and submerge themselves in files, the ones in dusty cardboard boxes labeled dull and unviable; re-read, re-think, re-write, research. Hm…search old files, another excuse to procrastinate. Happens all the time.
Interestingly, and a contradiction, ideas may be dead weight, sunk as expected –but curiously pique and fester, stuck in the craw like a fishbone.
We play word games and pay attention to those. Some may be worth reconsidering, yank them back into the boat. Perhaps they are intended to act as signposts or anchors to keep us from fleeing the incredibly interesting writing life.
Anchors are necessary at times to keep us from drifting over waterfalls to disaster, or into other, frankly less-interesting occupational choices. Would you assemble bicycles down at Wheelies or fry high-end hamburgers instead? Want cheese with that? Become a rodeo clown hiding in a rubber barrel? Weld beams on 120-story office towers or stay grounded, be a crusty 20-team mule-skinner, a prospector in Canada, or a farmer?
The fact is, every occupation in existence, however dull it may seem offers another life experience. With open mind, every material thing from slick, virtual touchpad- qwerty- screens to clackety old brass typewriter keys, the old round silver ones with capitals under plastic, guns and roses, ancient creaking wooden wagons — has a place and raison d’etre in the writing life. Feel the keys. See the screen. See anything? Look again. You know what I mean. It’s all in the observation. There’s really no reason to procrastinate.
A Dearth of Topics? Not believable.
“But I don’t have a thing to write about!” is a common complaint, but think about it; perhaps it’s really just a reason to procrastinate, to delay committing to writing something.
Need a topic? They surround us daily. Get out of the garret for an hour. Watch people, their reactions, how they speak, how they act. What remains unsaid is often more important and handily demonstrated by body language. Observe carefully. Topics are everywhere. Ideas are yours for the choosing. Think magic.
Look for topics variable in anything and everything; controversy, love, politics, space, rural life, city streets, crime and punishment, ladders to the stars, romance, fear, fiction, poetry, people, disaster, time, freedom, movies, banality, modernity, ancient rhymes, modern times, nurseries and bursaries, dusty old novelists, beautiful, hot, modern poets, Mother nature, religion, apple pie and mom, music, families, the promised land, explorers, sand, fire ants, the world’s sexiest islanders, volcanoes, war, peanuts & popcorn, gardening and green thumbs, education, bread and sweet butter pickles, things that tickle. Serious wedgies, stir-fried veggies, candy-apple red paint jobs on Mustangs parked at drive-in burger joints and mini-skirts on roller-skates bringing icy root beer, “ain’t she great?” all come to mind.
Write about diamonds, cabbages and kings, drive-in theatre sex, drugs in the sky, Sun-catchers in winter– why? Peach pie, green eyes, revelations and revolutions, baking pork chops, pyramids and Cheops, pizza, poverty and politics, races, sleds, king-sized beds, Olympians, fishing fools and fun, thought-streaming education of minors, Asian carp, musical harps big and small, occupations and distractions, lemonade stands in July, or earthquakes, desires, sloughs and quagmires, migrations of geese, tsunamis, race horses, college courses, authors, books, and the homeless in New Orleans. How to raise chickens in the back yard might come in handy too.
Art Nouveau, the history of pajamas, buildings with outlandish gargoyles, plundering dinosaurs, the Red Light district in Amsterdam, Russian brides, gay pride, bronze monuments in D.C., why vitamins were invented, Fukushima vented, the Renaissance, water, Einstein, pollution solutions, Great Walls, wallabies and whackos –are all homeless ideas wandering about, waiting for you to offer them a word, a sentence, a flash peek, some insight, a paragraph, page, or even a whole book. Still stuck? Take a minute, make a sandwich, munch on cookies. Pet the cat, cruise the net, run the dog, read the list again. Get it? Glean as you clean. Write stuff.
Failure to float an idea is not an option; write ten lines about snoozing on a luxury yacht in the Mediterranean –quickly now, before you realize that yes, you’re still sitting up there in the mother-in-law’s garret in sweats, the pet house- mouse nibbling your last crust of bread before your bloodshot eyes. If all else fails, write about compounding grey matter, synapse development, getting smarter, how to be a genius in one easy lesson, mind-seizure in hot, dry garrets, ‘brain for rent cheap’. Why writers shouldn’t live in hot, dry garrets…. Let us not forget writer’s block, the last remaining subject and port of call for the dejected, rejected and worried writer with a blank screen and that itchy cursor that annoys both cat and wireless mouse.
What will I write about next? How about what hasn’t been said before? Rant or recant. “The world is my apple” I say, ” I’ll happily share it with you, take a bite. Get a taste.” You may like it. Eat and savour everything but the seeds if you like—always save the seeds. Start your own collection.
As an avid gardener I like collections of seeds. Piles of them. A moving, morphing hill of ideas that germinate when sprinkled with unabated ambition. They offer hope, and even the most decrepit, unlikely seeds grow sometimes, creating new variations of the same old same old –and offer amazing surprises. Forgotten and unique varieties emerge, each with it’s own beauty, flavour, quirks and benefits. Planting seeds and ideas hurriedly, even tossed haphazardly into necessarily disjointed, imperfect rows and ignored totally- does seem to work miracles upon occasion if they fall upon fertile soil. Add the bewares, pull the tares.
Writing is like that. You never know what is going to sprout from an offhand comment, a whisper, an overheard argument, or an ‘I got-kicked-in-real life’ complaint, which can hold whooping revelations.
Psst….as in gardening, it does help to have a sketch, a plan, and direction. In the writing life, you need a plan-– but not one written in stone or even scratched in dirt. Timing is critical. Write furiously when inspired.
Haven’t we all heard that? Get out the notepad and jot down a few ideas, dream up a few pointers, combinations, permutations. Think freely. Thought-streaming. Check out your unexplored mind. Yes, we all have one.
There’s no reason to procrastinate, so let’s get to it. The first ten words are the most important to me. Done. You can do it too, so now– what will your word #11 be?
Go ahead, take a chance, hazard a guess. You’re a writer. A strange one.
Is that Incoming I hear?