Sunday, June 19, 2016

Metaphorical Fires, Writing Revelation, Weekly Miscellanea

I watch a lot of re-runs, (is that even a term anymore?) and I recently saw an episode of “Modern Family” from 2013 wherein Alex receives the final gift of a lighter from her dear departed grandmother. She agonizes over the “meaning” of the gift, since the other family member’s presents come with deep and clear significance. Alex’s family chalks it up to her grandmother’s senility, but I knew immediately what it meant. It meant that mousy, rule-following Alex needed to light some shit on fire. And she does. I also recently heard a story on the TBTL podcast about a Canadian woman who was mushroom hunting and got trapped in the woods and stalked by a vicious wolf, who she cleverly finished off by luring it to a bear. There is something about both of these stories that I find very compelling. Wolves and lighters. I don’t plan to off any wolves or commit an act of arson, but perhaps there is something wild in me longing to escape. I just don’t know what to do about it at the moment, since my present life feels relentlessly restricted and proscribed.

Speaking of wolves, it was an interesting epiphany to find that self-induced pressure to produce is incredibly unhelpful in the creative process, at least for me. I intended to write “The Diary of Wolfpine Glen” as a weekly series, confidently certain that if I “forced” myself to produce each week, my creativity would somehow fire on all cylinders, the story would flow out of me freely, and confusion, blockage and thorny plot issues would magically resolve through the sheer power of will. What actually happened was that I was beset with tension headaches and anxiety as the weekend approached, and I began to resent the creative process entirely, It felt like going to a second job, and all of the fun and joy just whooshed out of it like a popped balloon. I have found that what I need is time—time to think it through, concentrate on developing the characters, and map out the plot in a more systematic way. “Wolfpine Glen” is growing in my imagination and will come back at some point, but I need time to refine it and play with it a lot more. I wouldn’t call the experiment a failure, though. It helped me jump-start the project, and taught me that for me, time and space are essential to the creative process.

But I may take a little break from “Wolfpine Glen” to write a short story about a grammar- pendant health nut with a blow-dry. I got the idea from reading this hilarious blog post by Frank Moraes, about a recent run-in with such a fellow at Whole Foods. I think blow-dry health-nut guy would make a delightful character. He is rich with possibility.

Other miscellaneous updates: The stinky dresser is less stinky now, thank God. It still has a slight lingering odor, but it’s fading by the day. I sent out two novel queries yesterday, and just as I hit “send” on the second one, I received a terse rejection from an agent I had queried last month, thereby completely deflating whatever manufactured confidence I had managed to pump myself up with. Buddy’s being Buddy, although there have been no more off-deck adventures since the last escapade. And I finally finished playing through “The Rise of the Tomb Raider”. The end-game boss fight was exceedingly disappointing and lame, but overall, it was a solid game with a good storyline.

I have to go buy new walking shoes, so that’s it for this week. Enjoy this song by Henry Phillips about a deathly Waffle Shack. It always makes me laugh, because I have a very mature, sophisticated and erudite sense of humor.  (Warning: It contains a few swears.) 

--Kristen McHenry

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