Friday, July 8, 2011

Sometimes It's Magic, Sometimes . . .


Sometimes writing is magic. There may be no witches, wizards, or wands, no fairy godmothers, wondrous spells, or carpets that fly, but it’s magic just the same. How can it be anything but magic when all of a sudden the words are there in my mind? They flow from head to fingers to paper, apparently without effort. I hear the voices of my characters clearly as they reveal things to one another and to themselves.  I become a conduit for the ideas and images that come so fast I have trouble getting everything on the page. These are the days that leave me smiling and energized, certain the dreams floating like a brightly colored bouquet of balloons are just one grasp away.  I’m a writer.

Other days writing is work, hard work, too often fruitless labor. I write a sentence only to scratch it out. Every word that survives feels as if it’s heavy, weighed down by the darkness and doubt from which it emerged.  My characters have to be coaxed to speak, and then they snarl or sputter, giving me little I can use. My muse is on an extended vacation. I think she went to Saturn. For every word I keep, a dozen are blacked out in marks so emphatic they bleed through the page. These are the days that leave me weary and discouraged. I’m a failure.

Now I know there are writers who don’t suffer from such vicissitudes. They write every day, always meeting their word target, and accept philosophically that what needs changing can be tackled in revisions. I admire and envy the more disciplined and even-tempered, but surely I’m not alone in my feast and famine days. Surely I’m not the only writer who thrills to the magic and suffers through the drudgery.  So, taking a page from my friend MsHellion’s book, I give you a writer’s version of “The Bug,” with appropriate apologies to Mark Knopfler, who wrote it; Dire Straits, who recorded it; and Mary Chapin Carpenter, who covered it, and dedicate it to all the writers who just keep writing on the days when its magic and on the days when it’s a grind.
 



Just Work
Well, it's a strange old game - you got to know.
One page written, in the trash it’ll go.
You’re hitting the 10K mark.
You’re staring at the page.
In the groove--'til you write a cliché.

Sometimes it’s the magic.
Sometimes it’s just work.
Sometimes the words come together, my friend.
Sometimes writing’s all murk.
Sometimes the dream’s right there in your hands.
Sometimes you’re the worst.
Sometimes you’re flying sky high, my friend.
Sometimes you're gonna think you’re cursed.

You gotta do the dance - you gotta rejoice
because you're gonna know rotten,
and you'll lose your voice.
When you're writing and a grinning’
and the work’s like a song,
you start falling and fading
and it all goes wrong because

Sometimes it’s the magic.
Sometimes it’s just work.
Sometimes the words come together, my friend.
Sometimes writing’s all murk.
Sometimes the dream’s right there in your hands.
Sometimes you’re the worst.
Sometimes you’re flying sky high, my friend.
Sometimes you're gonna think you’re cursed.

One day your muse is vocal.
One day she’s gone mute.
One day you're a goddess,
and next you're a newt.
Everything can change
in the dot of an i,
so write while you can, friend
before the well runs dry, because

Sometimes it’s the magic.
Sometimes it’s just work.
Sometimes the words come together, my friend.
Sometimes writing’s all murk.
Sometimes the dream’s right there in your hands.
Sometimes you’re the worst.
Sometimes you’re flying sky high, my friend.
Sometimes you're gonna know you’re cursed.


What's your creative process like? Any of you share my sunshine and shadow pattern, or are you all  well-adjusted and disciplined?



5 comments:

Jean Brashear said...

Writers? Well-adjusted? Hahahahaha...!!! I feel your pain. The days when it all seems good are so very precious...and so rare and fleeting. The 'this is all crap and why did I ever want to write this story' days, sadly, far more numerous. But...I still wouldn't trade.
Jean
P S I LOVE Mark Knopfler!

Janga said...

Jean, thanks for dropping by. One of the Symboliste poets (I always forget which one) said poets were given one line and had to work for the rest. I think that must be true of fiction writers as well, except when we're blessed we get a few more given lines than do the poets. But your books read like they're made of magic.

MsHellion said...

I'm definitely a sunshine and shadow writer. *LOL* Lately more in shadow, but I get glimpses of sunshine now and again. :)

MsHellion said...

P.S. I love that I was the page in someone's book... Great parody--and totally identify! *LOL*

Janga said...

As long as there are some sunshine days, Hellie, I think we'll both make it. I'm glad you liked the parody. I could never attempt one without a tip of the hat to you, my friend.