Back to Basics

So, I was going to title this “Writing and the Swim Team” comparing my time on my high school swim team to writing with a partner. I was going to make the comparision how that even though you are part of a “swim team” what really matters (in the grand scheme of things) is your individual times for your individual races. The only time you are ever on a “team” is when you’re smacking the slow a**hole’s foot in front of you in practice or when you’re forced together for a 200 yard freestyle relay. Wherein, of course, you’re the only person who manages to get a 28 second 50 yard free and everyone else clocks in at 30 or 31 or, God forbid, 32 seconds.

Nevermind the fact that you almost killed yourself two races before, clocking in a 500 yard freestyle at 6:51:00, even though your partner at the other end dropped the counter three laps in, and the ONLY REASON you came back to the swim team was because you were begged and told that the girl’s team was crap without you. And nevermind that you were supposed to magically carry them to State that year with only three months of practice under your belt, while everyone else had six.

I’m not bitter.

Before you think that writing with someone is as horrible a picture as I’m painting, it’s not. Honestly and truly, it’s not. It’s fun, it’s frustrating, it’s a learning experience, but it’s not horrible. The real allusion I was making comparing the two was simply; even though you are “partners” the real goal is very personal, geared toward YOUR story rather than a joint effort on a single book.

But that’s for another post. I digress.

Why I titled this particular post “back to basics” is because, like every post in this blog; it reflects what I’m going through as I re-write Old Ipswich Road.

Sorry if you’re getting sick of reading about Ipswich, but you are on my blog.  The “back” button is right there on the toolbar. I’m sure you have something interesting to say on Facebook. If not, the television is in the other room, CSI is probably on right about now. If not, well, stop complaining.

“Back to basics” can mean anything to a varied amount of people. For me, it means my non-call-making iPhone. The notepad app is a blessing in disguise. I have a serious aversion to Scrivener. While it’s a fantastic program, and I plan on purchasing said program when I can afford a Macintosh, right now, it’s the Devil Incarnate. There’s a mental block. 

Well, there is, but there isn’t. Physically speaking, I can’t open the program. My computer has crapped out on me and now will only work in SAFE MODE. With the screen resoultion the way it is right now, it takes all the patience I posess just to draw the comic.  Mentally speaking, I get all twitchy and nervous when I think about working on Scrivener.

It’s anxiety producing, and I avoid it at all costs. Literally. I don’t even want to think about working on Scriv. I can’t. The ideas won’t come and I’m left staring at a blank workspace, wondering what the hell is wrong with me.

Knowing this, I avoided writing anything. I figured I needed a break. Once I took it, my logic dictated that eventually the ideas would start flowing and I could once again write on Scrivener.  So, I cracked open George R. R. Martin and lost myself in the Game of Thrones. It wasn’t until a third listening of True Grit and a second run through of Mario Puzo, however, that the ideas came back to me. True Grit, funnily enough, had nothing to do with it.

For anyone who enjoyed the Godfather movies, I highly recommend the books. But, listen to them, don’t read them. Audible presents the books with a full cast, it’s an enriching experience and, given the time the books are set in, makes for an old radio show where your imagination can take off. Al Pacino will always be Michael Corleone, but there’s something to be said for the power of the mind’s eye and what it can conjure up.

Maybe it was the way it was read, the soothing voice of the narrator dolefully telling the story with the correct voice inflections, keeping the story moving at a regular pace. Maybe Mario Puzo is just a literary genius, making no excuses for the length of the book or that it tells much more backstory than the movie gave it credit for and relied on said backstory to give creedence to the book and the plot as a whole. Whatever it was, it worked. The ideas came back in a hurry.  Suddenly I had an inkling of how I could tell the story, how the narrator would suddenly take an outside perspective, much more of the character’s story would be told, damn the length, I could figure it out later once the book was written.

But, for all intents and purposes, Mario Puzo was not the sole cause of my newfound creative inclinations. Felix J. Palma opened the doors. The Map of Time is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I was wary at first, not knowing what to expect, but I’m glad I picked it up.

I digress. In short, the book was everything I needed for the early 19th century, to get a feel of the new time period my book would be set in. It even gave me an idea of how to piece everything together. 

Suddenly my iPhone was my best friend. The notepad app crowded by half chapters and ideas. I’ve almost gotten a full chapter written. All it took was foregoing one technology for another, smaller technology. The same thing I did in the Navy when I had 16 hours to separate between sleep and writing before I had to go back on watch out in the middle of the sun-drenched ocean.

Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s the basics that bring everything back.

Until next time!


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