Writer’s Crack!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWriter’s crack is real!  No, this isn’t about the pants-sliding-down-while-you-type crack, like the plumber’s crack of comedy gold.  We’re talking about things that put you into a frenzy to write a newly inspired story.  Every writer has triggers, and if you’re lucky you can find them and use them to get out of a slump.

A couple of years ago, while browsing through a used book store, I found a book about English fairy tales and–of course–purchased it.  (That’s it, up on the need-to-read shelf.  The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by W. Y. Evens-Wentz.)  The subject has always fascinated me; it was not my first, and certainly not my last such book.  Some weeks later, on a lazy Saturday afternoon, I had a moment to crack it open.  The introduction (Yes, I read introductions, prologues, glossaries, appendices, and maps.) was both pleasantly surprising and completely cringe-worthy, in the way of dusty, old, and almost forgotten books.  Apparently, I had in my hand a recent reissue of a book that JRR Tolkien had referenced for his world building.  Even more pleased with my lucky find, and hopefully under the influence of a little mystical foresight, I happily delved into the first chapter…

AND FIRMLY SHUT IT, bookmarked on chapter two.  The after images in my head, while my body lay snugly anchored on my couch with the book clasped in unmoving hands, spun like leaves heralding the start of a stormy spring.  The stories!  Characters!  Battles!  Lighting, tempests, swords, grief, love, fear, and loss that is an ache that pierces to the soul’s depth.

I held completely still.  The overfull brain must not be disturbed.  A new/old world sloshed against the sides of it.  For a dry and dated tome, first published in 1911, it held a surprising lushness.

I was aware of movement deep in my psyche.  There was something lurking in my mind.  Lurking like an elder god and getting called to the surface.  The Leviathan rises, or worse…

Unfortunately, I already had three multi-book story arcs that had been clawing at the insides of my skull, rudely pushing each other out of line and snarling to be first.  I closed that wonderful book HARD–like the doors of Tartarus–just to preserve my soul from the punishments I likely deserved.  It contained the breath of Titans snoring, and (as anyone who has lived with a chronic snorer learns) I heard the sound of something nearing an awakening.

It sits on my shelf, unobtrusively, but whispering to me I quiet moments.  I know that like Pandora, I am doomed to open it…

Eventually.  For now, it sits.  It’s writer’s crack, or something like.

Hopefully, a story is really in there, but I think I may need to be a more experienced writer to do it justice.  It’s not the only story I have saved for later in my career.  For now, I have my other stories that I am currently passionate about, and willing to learn on.

This past weekend I added three more of The Lost Library book series to my shelf, risking collusion among them.  Myths are my weakness, and my wellspring.  I–apparently–like to live dangerously.

And that, folks, is about as close as I get to a written book review.  Not an Amazon review (I’ll do those anytime for books I like, especially for independent authors), but an actual blog review.  It’s not my thing, and lots of other people do a really good job of them.  And despite the heavy-handed use of metaphor in this post, it really doesn’t begin to describe what was happening to my brain.

But, I am curious if this has ever happened to any of you?

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3 thoughts on “Writer’s Crack!

  1. Oh, yes, in many different ways. You speak of inspiration, that crackling lightning in the soul that makes all the labor of creation both necessary and worth it. I can imagine no greater torment than to have such inspirations and be unable to act on them. (In fact I once read a truly horrific story about exactly that.) Most of my stories have their origins in some such shining moment. It’s why I always say, pay attention to your own life, you can never tell what will spark that fire.
    I was in a bookstore, looking over the shelves, when I came across a book titled ‘Blood Moon.’ The first thought that popped into my head was , “Cool, a story about a werewolf attack on a lunar colony.” Which it wasn’t, but my second thought was, “Hey, I’m an author [I had one whole book at the time], I can do that!” That idea eventually, after much work, growth, and change, became St. Martin’s Moon.
    As for crashing booming ideas echoing in the soul, I got something like that when I was asked to write a story for a contest, in which my story was the prize. The lady who won gave me all sorts of data about her life, and my mind just exploded with ideas. I was up for hours that night, coming up with the basic plot of my short story ‘Off the Map’, in which a woman gets dragooned onto the set of interdimensional Survivor, their first human player, and breaks the show. I really mangled the mythology with that one.
    Speaking of mangled mythology, another short story that leapt from pen to pad was ‘Bite Deep’. I was asked to do a story for a charity anthology, the only criterion that it contain some mention of fire, and I wrote a story about vampires at Christmas. I tied the origin of vampires to three different mythologies, but mostly Norse.

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  2. Oh yes. I’ve been here. I know the rising feeling, like a well filling. And damn, I need to find a copy of this!

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  3. Yes. Some are braver than me but, I’ve been hurt too many times. Stories starting off with a big and ending in a wimpy fizzle. Both in TV and Books. Sometimes (and feel free to call me crazy) I think the mystery is better than the story. If it were me, I’d probably never read it again after such an awesome opening. What if it falls flat or becomes stale? By never opening that box there could be anything in there. The answers to life itself.. but if you open that box.. it could just be a 30yr old Hershey’s Kiss or like an old fortune from a fortune cookie – that’s not even that good a reading, or like an old piece of string. Sometimes I wish I never watched past season 3 of LOST, or FRINGE for that matter.

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