Here’s the thing. I write, mostly, second-word fantasy. Created-by-me worlds and societies that both reflect our commonalities, and showcase all sorts of other possibilities. Yes, my creative ego is soothed only by controlling everything from the story to the world that hosts the story to the history that lead to the story. Elbow-deep in all the things!
Especially festivals and holidays. My characters adore wine and presents as much as I do. And not having to go to their day jobs. I like writing people celebrating and finding joy in special moments. I like writing traditions—the kind that nourish the soul and the kind that drag down wild-n-free spirits.
So it’s kind of a bummer that I don’t get to write the winter holidays. I mean, yeah, I could. Nothing stopping me from going all Hallmark Movie in my .docs. Except contemporary, and the whole of anglo-history doesn’t ping for me right now. Since 2016, reality has been A LOT, and while I am doing my share in righting as many as real-world wrongs as I can touch, for inner peace and creative refreshment, I need to go elsewhere.
This time of year is the only time I feel that conflict. Wanting to write the here and now, while having nearly zero stories to tell about any of it. I get ideas, because I’m a writer and writers generate ideas like dryers make lint. Lots of it, and nearly all of it gets thrown away.
I could fill a hundred posts about the mystery of why some ideas are only that. Ideas. Brain lint. Warm for a while, forgotten after the next cycle. And why other ideas ignite, and then, burn brighter and brighter until the story is written.
But, instead I am going to fill this blog post with a more recent realization. That part of becoming a productive writer, for me, was learning to recognize which ideas were fun little thoughts to toss around when I should be paying attention at a day job meeting, and which ideas spurred me to the keyboard, kept me at the keyboard, and ended up as finished drafts.
In Word Painting, Rebecca Mcclanahan talks about each writer having their own constellations. I love that imagery. Because it implies the cluster of things we’re drawn to, but also how we make them full blown. How we make them into sky-wide images that shine brighter than their twinkling parts.
The best writers among us figure out ways to origami the layout of those twinkling parts into dozens of enchanting stories. The hacks among us allow us to see that parts plopped down in same configuration time and time again lose poetry and become a drone. For me, in the middle of the spectrum, leaning towards better moreso than hack (mixed metaphors aside), that means nurturing the sparks that I know I can make stars with, and letting the fiery comets of random ideas pass by.
And, ish. That’s sounds like I’m advocating a dreary sort of coloring within some very narrow lines. I’m not, I swear. Treasure your creative oddities and new insights. But recognize where your heart is. And which paths lead your heart to home or wherever you want most to go.