The Mechanical Writer
1, 2, 1,2 coming out in September was a huge deal for me. In total that book now represents over 3 years of work… up to and including the media activity still taking place. In fact, I finished writing that book BEFORE A Body Remembered, which was published 1 year earlier.
For more or less the last year, my creative output has been pretty slow. Even the anthology of poetry that is currently in production consists of work that I completed creating well over a year ago. I mention this because this week it struck me that my creative writing seems to have ground to a halt.
Of course it hasn’t really. I have spent a lot of time this year writing voice over scripts for TV shows and doing a lot of corporate communications and journalism. Maybe not the most creative work, but writing none the less.
The truth is, after the effort of creating 3 books worth of material in about 18 months and then doing a lot of bill-paying work, my mind is a little tired. Those tiny reservoirs of observation and creative connection are busy being refilled. It feels as if my creative side is like a farm field… in need of lying fallow.
In the meantime I have a documentary film coming out next year that I need to pay attention to, a poetry book, a Zombie short film and a documentary book… not to mention the bills. But once all of that is under way, I think I might send me mind to Hawaii. Actually, New Zealand… South Island. I have a new found ambition to do a bike trek across the Southern Alps.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that I have been writing professionally since 1996. Its not gong to go away. When talking to aspirant writers, I am always keen to use the analogy of an athlete: saying that if you don’t pitch up and train every day, you’ll never make the national side. The more you train the better and leaner and meaner you get. But, like an athlete, you can also burn out and start to fade away.
I mostly train every day as well, running, gym, boxing, whatever. This week I have been so flat, I can barely drag myself up the stairs to my flat. Its OK, I know I just need a rest. End of year syndrome and all that. Sometimes when this happens I just feel betrayed by my body, instead of watching it like a flashing light on the dashboard and slowing down!
I have also realised that my approach to writing and creativity is pretty mechanical. Or at least I have found a mechanical expression. In order to develop what I call muscle memory, I try and write at the same time every day, for a similar period of time. Theory being that when the muscles are fit the juices can flow (See? That analogy again!)
When you are fit and on form, this has the advantage of making everything seem effortless and wonderful. But as I am discovering, when you are only firing on 2 cylinders, it makes everything a bit of a pain in the arse.
Right now is the most important moment of my life. In this exact moment. In a conscious effort to be in it, it is just that. But my mind and body yearn for some quieter time. I actually feel like a wage slave reaching for the finish line and the family holiday. But yes, there are deadlines to be met, opportunities to be taken advantage of and a wonderful life to be lived. Right now though, I think I need a little nap, mechanical writer or not!