L’s Rabid Brainchildren

…or, How to look like a disciplined writer without being disciplined.
(…or, Why my writing mentors may throw things at me.)

I have been mislabeled. Often, I am thought to be a disciplined writer. As it happens, I actually suffer from a lack of discipline/will-power – I believe that when the mood strikes me to write, I will write. Fortunately in the past this mood has struck often, however, there are occasions where I do not write for months. Understanding my madness is half of how I have learned to work around it.

Although the muse does not visit that often, when the muse is present, it is a very prolific period. It also has a habit of slipping in at irritating times, like when I’m trying to force myself to do other projects. So instead of getting irritated by this, I’ve decided to embrace the crazy uncertainty, and this is the reason I can have a variety of projects on the go of varying forms and genres. They also crossbreed, which is both good and bad.

The advantages of this freedom are that I end up with a large pool to draw on, both in terms of story/line/title ideas and material for editing, submission and revamping. Indeed, aside from Magnolias & Gaslight, it was a strong reason why I was able to do so much extracurricular work in my BA – oftentimes, I didn’t have to write a thing – I just had to draw out something already written that fit the assignment, polish it up a bit, and bring it in.

However, there are certainly disadvantages. This method supposes that I will always have the fortune of being prolific in large but scarce doses. It also isn’t that compatible with deadlines if something is incomplete or doesn’t quite fit the assigned task. This last point is where the second part of my ‘method’ kicks in.

You will soon come to realize – if you haven’t already – that my brain works in strange ways, and indeed I often consider it a separate entity from my mind (I will often refer to it in third-person or chidingly as ‘Brain’). I frequently have to trick it into doing things, even writing, like hiding vegetables in a child’s meal. For example, if I know I really should finish editing something, or finish a chapter, the surefire way for me to get it done is to pretend, for the benefit of my brain, that I am looking the other way – i.e., another project.

In reality, the above is a similar strategy to basic meditation. When one feels overwhelmed by work or a life problem, relaxation and distraction often allow the solution to appear, or at least give us the perspective needed to solve it ourselves. Likewise, I’m sure some of you have heard of the appeal of mind-numbing work because it doesn’t occupy too much headspace for what we really want to think about. In short, an anxious mind is often crowded, tired, and has its nose too close to the tree to see the bear. Forest. Bear. Or, for a more successful image – a knot won’t come undone if you keep pulling it tight.

My ‘distractions’ take the form of editing, re-reading my work that I’ve on the odd occasion liked, working with photography or gathering concept images. It’s still creative, and often still in the domain of what I’m doing and useful. But most importantly, Brain starts to play around with the things we put aside for a while. I trick it into thinking I need to focus on this here minutae, and voila, true to form it rejects all attempts to discipline it and goes back to the original project. Moi one, Brain nil.

All of the above could be seen as a glossed-up case of ADHD. I would argue no. There is purpose behind the jumping: ultimately,  I will do whatever I have in my power to perfect and finish the project. The point is still to write, write, WRITE.

Bearing this quasi-method in mind, these are some of my current projects in the pipeline. Some have been around since the beginning of me taking myself seriously as a writer, and have undergone tremendous changes. Others are from the Golden Age of my BA, usually as a result of procrastination from the projects I was meant to be working on. Each are dear to me in their own way.

  • Edge Of Forever, now titled Project Orchid. This is the baby, born in October 2005 originally as ‘ION: Legend’s Blood’. It has gone through at least four major redrafts, the latest of which I feel like I”m finally on to something. During this time, however, there has been serious world-building (crucial, in a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid) and character development. These characters feel like my family. From basically an anime-influenced piece it has become a serious trilogy. The first book, ‘Project Orchid: Earth and Air’, is complete and under the editing microscope. Of the rabid brainchildren, it is the twenty-something still hanging around the house.
  • Gang Craft. This was born a year or two after ‘ION’, and dropped after a few chapters. Have since revitalized it in its second incarnation mostly as a vehicle for one character’s design. It is also serving as the maiden project for Percorso Publishing (see link at right). Magical realism, thriller. This is the precocious tweenie of the rabid brainchildren.
  • Expletives. This was actually not long behind ‘ION’, just as a genre alternative. Like Gang Craft, it is now on its second incarnation. A coming-of-age novel with locations strongly based on where I grew up, this is actually the project that I hit on the prose style truest to what I want. Both it and Magnolias are the moody teenagers of the rabid brainchildren right now.
  • Magnolias & Gaslight. Begun in the final year of my BA and as you can imagine, it’s a historical piece. Because I lost the first version in the Great Harddrive Fiasco, I had to start over and I think this was for the better. New Orleans, 1919. Teenage rabid brainchild.
  • Silences & Other Animals. My first serious poetry collection, it’s currently out at New Rivers Press and their New Voices competition. Am waiting to hear back. Now that I feel like I’ve settled into my voice, and after all the practice in final year Poetry on forming a collection, I feel confident in this. With the exception of Project Orchid, I’ve not been so satisfied with a project before. The adjusted-as-well-as-can-be-expected older teenager about to go off to college, *breath*, of the rabid brainchildren.

At some point I may use extracts to ‘teach’ some stuff on here, or at least show others how I do things that may be helpful! Some of you who don’t really know me may be curious as to why I think I”m qualified. No, I haven’t been published yet, not majorly anyway, but that’s my own fault because I’m a perfectionist and hardly ever send things out as a result. However, my BA is in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, where I was conferred First Class / summa cum laude honors. I have served as an editor in numerous places, most importantly with an international anthology, as well as a private writing tutor. But – ego-stroke over – I am still learning, and have my own weaknesses. I am still happy to pass on what I know, admit what I don’t, and take suggestions on both!

Speaking of: anyone have any ‘tutorial’ suggestions?


One Response to “L’s Rabid Brainchildren”

  1. I dugg some of you post as I thought they were very helpful invaluable

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