The Curve in the road



When you build a house, or any structure, before you push aside the dirt and level the land, you have to sit down and create blueprint. The blueprint is where you pour your ideas out from the inner workings of your brain and onto paper. You’ll use paper – this part is important – because the vision you have for your structure must become reality in some form. As you smooth the paper flat each foundational corner comes into view, followed by another quickening heartbeat.

When you build, it’s hard not to be excited. Long term planning and construction takes patience, something I’ve struggled with over the years. I want the end goal now, not tomorrow or three years from now, I want it right now. Sadly the world rarely works in such a fashion, and for those it lends kismet’s grace there’s always another shoe to drop later on. When you build, you work, bottomline.

Since late last year I’ve been writing a piece set in the near future. The story takes place at a time in history which may never happen, and is centered around the differences in families. My foundational markers begin with five separate families who live, work, and try to survive in what is left of humanity as we know it. Beyond all the conflicts which take place in domestic groupings, they all have to deal with conflicts that arise on a micro and macro scale. I’ve taken the time to spread out my paper and clear the land, then build the foundational markers for the skyscraper I’m building.

And then I got a curve out of nowhere.

In writing terms this happens all the time. You have a hot story cooking on the stove and then BANG you find a new spice to work with. Initially you aren’t sure it’s going to work with what you have cooking on the stove, but you put a dash in here and there – and hot damn it works.  Then as the food comes close to being ready for your first taste you smell something…off. You check the ingredient list and try to remember how long the stove has been on for, but damned if you can’t remember.

That’s what happens when the muse hits. It’s like riding a wild beast, you either find a way to get control over it or get consumed in doubt, fear, and mismanagement.  

So when you find that new source of inspiration you’re going to need to temper your enthusiasm a little and approach the work on your blueprint with the right amount of focus. Don’t let the immediate need of this new spice you’ve found curdle the food you already have cooking. This is the problem I ran into with the current piece in the sheer amount of characters I was planning on placing in the first book. I loved the idea of all these different lives co-mingling along the same main story thread, but when I started re-reading what I already had down, I realized it might be dizzying for the reader to keep up with what the hell was going on. The last thing you want to is confuse the reader, or force them to ask – “Was this supposed to be short story collection?”

So the curve in the road for me in regards to this piece means less equals more. It means I shelve some characters from getting their day in the sun and push them to the background until the story matures to the point where they are ready to have the spotlight. This is all easy for someone else to look at objectively and say it makes sense, but for me they all have a part to play in what comes next, I just have to time it right.

Addendum: I often wonder what goes through some people’s heads when they make decisions about the level of responsibility children are allowed to have. I spent the week frustrated that I wasn’t able to change the circumstances surrounding the safety of someone I love dearly.  Hearing my own voice advise myself that these events are the after effects of choices I’ve made was equally difficult. I’ll use this to remind you all that actions have consequences even years after you’ve made them.

Today Emalee and I get to see several friends act in a play production of She Kills Monsters. It’s A comedic romp into the world of Dungeons & Dragons, It tells the story of Agnes Evans as she leaves her childhood home in Ohio following the death of her teenage sister, Tilly. The play was written by Qui Nguyen in 2012, but my friend and former partner in crime Travis Legge is putting it at the Nordlof Center in Rockford.

If you’re in the Rockford area and you want to support local art – General Admission tickets are just $12 for upcoming shows on Apr 28th & 29th – with a Sunday matinee on Apr 30th
I’ve been listening to a lot of Public Service Broadcasting recently. I really dig their style of mashing up great sound with cuts of live news and documentary voices. I highly recommend you check them out.