Friday, 7 June 2013

Keeping the Moles in Line

Many, many years ago, I read the first chapter of a book that had the narrator describing how her emotions were like moles. The particular narrator was focused on the point that she seemed to have less moles than other people, or perhaps a different kind of mole. [Either way, for the life of me, I can't remember the title of the book or the author, so if you know it, please enlighten me.]

Am I about to start talking about metaphors? Not even remotely.

I want to talk about writing through a variety of different emotional states.

To start, a quote from GoT's Syrio Forel, because the Braavosi is amazing:

"Good. Trouble is the perfect time to train.
When you're dancing in the meadow with your dolls and kittens,
this is not when fighting happens."

I'm sure you can guess where I'm going with this. Since ancient Greece, artists of all kinds have talked about getting inspiration from muses in the completion of their work. Others have removed themselves from reality through the use of drugs and alcohol to help get into a state where they were able to write. It would be wonderful if suddenly rainbows rained down upon me and showered me with the energy and inspiration to write a complete novel from start to finish in a glorious burst of textual orgasm. In reality, that's never going to happen.

There are, obviously, moods better suited to writing, and inspiration does strike on occasion. But, as all writers are human being, we experience the full range of emotions, from despair to anger to ecstasy. Depending on what you're writing, some of these might actually be helpful to channel onto the page. However, there is one particular mole that is difficult to write with: apathy. It's the apathy of not wanting to do anything, the apathy of post-modern existential ennui that makes everything seem pointless, the apathy of questioning the value of pursuing your writing.

I wish I could tell you that I have a magical remedy for apathy. Unfortunately, I don't. Having been wrestling with it the past few days, the only thing I can say, is that writing with apathy is difficult, but doable. If you can ignore the voice of Nietzche talking about an abyss and put some words on a page, the willful act of creation  slowly drives the apathy mole away, until it goes back to its dark lair. 

So shoo, apathy mole, be gone!

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