I’ve a challenge to toss you. (Call it a gauntlet.)
I READ A BLOG POST YESTERDAY by a blogster/friend who, try though she may, could not muster up the enthusiasm to follow the goals she had set for herself. Been there, and more time than I’d care to admit! And if you’re human–especially if you are a human involved in creativity, I daresay you’ve visited that wasteland of procrastination and fading dreams yourself.
SONIA G MEDEIROS … this is for you … kind of an addendum. Yours was the post I read yesterday for which I left a comment. The comment must have lacked the degree of merit I’d desired, else it wouldn’t have been niggling at me the rest of that day and into the evening. In a nutshell what I advised you was, pretty much, to overcome your lack of enthusiasm by being enthusiastic. I think I had a fancier–at least wordier–way than that of saying it.
IN THE OFF-CHANCE SOMEONE OTHER THAN the author reads this, here is Sonia G. Medeiros’ link to that blog post, “How Do You Revive Your Motivation?” After you read it, take the extra minute to sign up for her blog. You’ll find it, and Sonia, encouraging and helpful.
BACK TO THE NIGGLE. In keeping with the thrust of my comment to Sonia, which was to convert one’s goals into bite-sized portions, or projects, where there would be a reward at each juncture, instead of waiting for the grand goal to miraculously materialize its completion. Take those tiny rewards, watch them accumulate, celebrate their growth on the way to the major accomplishment.
WAITING FOR THE GERM IDEA for that novel, now in a twenty-direction flight, to settle down and land? You’re itching to begin work on some juicy characters who can effectively hate/love/murder/hit and get hit/struggle-to-forgive, etc. But until you have a clearer idea of what the plot is to be about, what self-respecting character will allow you to mess with his or her mind, will let you get them fighting and embracing each other …?
“Big, BIG, B-I-G project you’d probably be wise to let bounce off your inner noggin undeterred a while.” Or so your MILDRED-THE-MUSE whispers in your ear. “Some processes you shouldn’t rush.”
And in the meantime? You wonder, What do you do to keep the creative juices churning? You consider: Why not a short story? Surely you can knock one or two out in a day, couldn’t you? Good short-term infusion of success into your creative veins, eh?
You offer the thought to your muse (as though she would wait for the invitation).
“Trouble is,” she says, without the need to even ponder the question, “the conventional short stories can have the same architectural problems as the novel … but with this major difference: the short story is COMPRESSED. You have less space to resolve the problems of beginning, middle, end, the insurmountable problems for the protagonist to overcome, the ultimate major confrontation, its resolution, and the huge sigh of a satisfactory denouement. I don’t want you to spend the better part of a day, flying by the seat of your pants on a ten or twelve page short story, only to abandon it in frustration. I want to still be around when your GENIUS is recognized by the world.”
You throw up your hands. What’s the use? What’s the value of a muse if it isn’t to offer a solution to one’s creative problem?
“And who’s to say I don’t have a solution?”
You feel the warmth of hope. Give it to me.
Than a short story?
“By golly, I think you have it!”
You mean flash fiction?
“Closer … closer. There’s this BLOGSTER, you see. He’s OLD AS DIRT, but feisty. Been writing over 60 years. Anyway, his MUSE, Charlie–Oh, Charlie! Charlie has the cutest tush–”
Please stay on point.
“Anyway, this Charlie–who has a thang for me–”
Mildred! Keep your private life out of my blog-space.
“–developed the 100-WORD CHALLENGE, and he–er, convinced me–I should introduce this challenge to my clients.”
Clients, with an S?
“Don’t act so privileged. There were others before you. Faulkner–now there was a writer! Currently, you may be interested to know you share me with as many as five a week.”
You’re a hussy, Mildred!
“I take precautions. You’ll never catch creativity transmitted from any of them.”
Charming. So Charlie’s blogster, who’s old as dirt … he took the challenge?
“Would you like to see it? Doesn’t matter. You’re gonna read it anyway. It’s called PINKY PROMISE:
Jeremy slides on his bottom down the steeper part, remembering.
Stay way dat crik, boy. Dis heart cain’t tek two buryin’s.
Jeremy squints back beyond the ridge to the rooftop Franklin cardboard-patched two days earlier.
Jest us, boy, now yer fool brother drownded hissef. God teked my youngest, an’ leaved me the burdenest. But, you’s not looney like folks say—jest slow.
Thinking: I gotta, Ma, Jeremy inches downward, toward the sound of water churning over bloody rocks. I’s slow, Frankie, but I knowed you shounta crossed the rocks first, ’count o’ I’s Ma’s burden, now. Durn pinky promise. Sorry, Ma ….