It is 8:20am and I am IN the groove. Or not!
I’m working on my third cup of lukewarm coffee, the spouse and kids have vacated the premises, the dog is sleeping; and the dishwasher is making that crunchy grinding noise again. I can’t look over my shoulder, not once, because IF I do…chaos will ensue. I must block it from my mind. I pretend there aren’t four cereal boxes open on the counter, kitchen recycling spilling over the transom of blue bins, and a pile of laundry sitting on the floor of the mudroom.
In order to be a writer one must never sweat the small stuff.
I once read a quote about writing that has stuck with me like a tiny splinter: you think it’s gone but then the tiniest brush against the finger reveals that sharp stab of pain.
The writer who spoke such inflicting words won a Pulitzer and a Nobel prize for his work, so he was, in other words, no slouch.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” -Ernest Hemingway
But he also said, “Write drunk; edit sober,” and I’m afraid I’ll never accomplish anything if I crack open the tequila at this hour of the day. Salud!
I’ll play it safe and stick to coffee.
Which inspires me to imagine what might happen if I followed his advice when writing for my real job (Translating scientific and medical research from Spanish to English for publication in high-impact medical journals). There are many kinds of writing, each requiring its own set of unspoken guidelines.
Drunken inspirations are better left to fiction!
And that’s not to say that good scientific writing doesn’t require some form of inspiration, but the imagination-free-for-all that happens in a blissful moment of creation when writing fiction is the essence we imaginative writers strive to achieve.
How do you know when you’ve reached that idyllic place? Is there something in the reading of the actual writing, or is it more of an out-of-body transcendence you experience while in the throes of writers’ passion?
You’ve seen it in musicians, haven’t you? When they’re so in tune, pardon the pun, with the expression of their art that it shows on their faces, and you hear it in their voices: when they reach another plane, another dimension of feeling, an otherworldly place all of their own; lifted beyond the limits to another level that sends shivers of emotion down the spines of their earth-bound audience.
It’s what we all want to do: touch our audiences so profoundly that they feel it in their bones, in the tight grip of their throats, in the sensation that stings like pain from the gentlest of brushes against their own imaginations while reading your words…
What better compliment can a writer receive than, “I might have cried a little, okay a lot, when I read your book. I was sobbing, but I couldn’t put it down.”
For now, all science nerdiness aside, I’ll ignore the small stuff and seek my own ethereal plane in the hopes that I can once again affect my audience with a mere hint of that otherworldly delight.
Blood, sweat, tears, and coffee; but not necessarily in that order.