The Leaky Faucet Theory

All right. I’m back at Starbucks, on what could be described as a pseudo-day off. I don’t technically work, but I do have a supervisor meeting over the lunch hour.

So, I’m sitting here attempting to use my time wisely. Iced coffee is just beginning to pump through me and my ‘Cards’ playlist is swimming through my ears.

Since I’ve moved to Oregon, every piece I’ve written has an attached soundtrack. A playlist of songs that, either through the lyrics or the actual music, make me think about the writing.

The playlist for ‘Vessels’ had a lot of Muse and 30 Seconds to Mars with some Incubus sprinkled in for good measure.

This playlist is a bit different, but it’s working. Way more varied than the last playlist. The Civil Wars, Incubus, Nine Inch Nails, The Heavy, AFI, Cage the Elephant, just to name a few.

As a test I had coworkers listen to the playlist after we closed, and asked them what they thought the story was about. Generally they were confused, but came away with a sense of the wild west and outlaws.

Which was close enough. The steampunk element was lost to them, reflected in AFI and Nine Inch Nails.

Music is a funny thing. And I take it more seriously than most people I know. Though I love reading and writing, obviously, I call Music my religion. Music is what I turn to when I feel lost, when I need an outlet I can turn it up and scream along. When I’m happy there are key artists who make repeat appearances, like Snow Patrol.

And while I can play instruments, its not the creative outlet I seek. I can play trumpet, piano and guitar, but very rarely do I feel the need to play. And if I do, I don’t compose. I play someone else’s music that really spoke to me.

I’m starting to believe that creative energy is like a water faucet. The more you tap it, the less comes out of each tap.

Trevor has recently taken up drawing. He says that he tried in high school and was awful at it, so he gave up. But, he’s been planning out projects, drawing nerdy mash-ups for potential t-shirt ideas. And you know what?

He’s pretty good!

He has zero training, he’s just going on his gut, and it’s working for him. I’m urging him to take a class in the fall, and he just might, since he enjoys it so much.

And I’m reminded of how I used to draw. I loved drawing in high school. But then I danced, choreographing pieces and learning other student’s choreography.

It wasn’t until college, after I’d broken my foot and decided to stop dancing, that I started writing.

And so I return to the faucet analogy. I feel like my creative energy is limited. But, if I only tap it for one project at a time, I can never run out. If I try to write a novel and draw, neither one will get finished.

Also like a tap, you need to leave it leaking, so that it won’t freeze. That’s what reading and drawing and listening to music does for me. I can take in the creative elements from each one and feel my mind absorb them, and start applying them to whatever I’m working on.

I’m curious to see what others think of this analogy. Does this apply to your creative processes, Blogland?


Anyway, yesterday’s work on the novel was decent. I only wrote about 250 words of chapter 2, but I outlined the entire novel. 16 chapters and an Epilogue. A lot of plot details that I hadn’t known were discovered yesterday, and I’m really excited for them. Subplots are growing and making themselves heard.

Like learning that Mal is a little bat-shit. That he’s keeping a strong front, but he’s hurting too. He lost his twin sister, but he’s a leader, and he’s trying to keep his people unified and safe, all while helping Whit take care of himself and his daughter; Mal’s niece.

Like learning that there’s a slave trade, and that’s why Whit’s daughter is kidnapped.

Or that Mel, Whit’s deceased wife, was planning a sort of revolution for her people, and that’s why she was murdered.

Or that Cora was once owned, and escaped. That’s why she’s so incredibly secretive about her abilities.

So, you see, yesterday was actually quite productive. Even if the word count doesn’t reflect that. And I’m already more concerned with word count than I should be. I don’t know why, but this novel is outlined at just about 50k words. Now, ‘Vessels’ was almost 10k words longer than its outline suggested, and I’m guessing ‘Cards’ will follow that pattern. But that’s still only 60k.

That’s a pretty small adult novel. Because this definitely isn’t YA. ‘Vessels’ is, and can use that label to justify its size. But, why can’t I write longer works? I keep asking myself that, and I know the answer.

Brandon Sanderson said that if you read novels and want to write novels, then write novels. Practice writing novels by WRITING NOVELS.

I have only written one novel. But I’ve written and read and practiced short stories for years now. I’ve never had a problem with writing over the word limit. I am good at concise.

So, I’m practicing. And, I think it’s working. This project is bigger than the last one, so it should follow that the project after this will be longer than this one.

I’m sure hoping so.

Anyway, enough blither-blather. I’ve got a novel to write!



Not What I’d Had in Mind

Writing is hard today. Don’t know why. I’m sitting in the lobby of my Starbucks, freezing under the unnecessary air conditioning, and staring at the blank screen of chapter 11.

Chapters 9 and 10 were so good. And really came quite easily. Now I have to fight for 11.

It doesn’t help that my brain is clogged with other things.

I started playing Defiance, and it’s awesome. So of course it’s almost all I can think about. If I could, I would play 24 hours a day, that’s how much I enjoy it.

Also, I had a new story idea and it has me really excited, but I don’t want to even touch it until the rough draft of Vessels is finished. Which is really hard to do.

Add to it that I’ll have been at work for about 12 hours today, and somehow didn’t manage to drink any coffee, and I’m mentally zapped.

So, basically, Vessels has been ignored this last week. Except for when I shower. For some reason I always think about my stories when I’m in the shower.

Even now, as I write this post, I’m really just avoiding chapter 11. I tell myself that I’m just using the blog to work out my problems with the chapter, but so far that’s not really happening.

Maybe it needs to marinate? I don’t know. I have flashes of moments from the chapter, and they’re good. Exciting. I should want to write them.

But, once I actually sit down and rest my fingers on the black keys of my MacBook, nothing happens. 

I think I’m nervous. What if 11 doesn’t stack up? 9 and 10 have set the standard, and I’m terrified that 11 is going to suck.

How dumb is that?

Another method of ignoring this chapter has come in the form of editing the Vessels playlist on my ipod. This is the music I listen to while writing the novel. it includes the collective genius of Muse, 30 Seconds to Mars, Incubus, Cage the Elephant, The Civil Wars, Jeff Buckley, The Lumineers, Soundgarden, and Placebo.

It’s an odd playlist, but most of the songs make sense for the novel, either through the lyrics or the actual sound or tone of the song.

Anyway, this post has taken the better part of two hours to write, and as the evening persists, my mood steadily drops. I can’t write tonight, it would seem. I can’t focus. I can only scribble in purple ink the tenuous ramblings of my broken mind.

Impotence. That’s the feeling.