Saturday, March 01, 2014

Writers Weather.

It was Spaulding Gray, a New Englander, who spent a winter in Los Angeles trying to write. He said he couldn't do it. The weather was always good and there were so many distractions to sitting down and trying to actually write something.  He postulated that he needed to be back East where there is weather. He screamed, "When will I feel corduroy on my body and be able to think again."  
For the last 48 hours it has been raining here in LA.  Rain in LA means flooding, mudslides and mandatory evacuations of homes in the path of a black water avalanche. We have not had a rain like this in several years so the drains and gutters have become clogged from lack of use. Streets far from the mudslides of the burn sites are flooded because of the back up.  All over the city motorist are avoiding the flooded areas, so traffic everywhere is impossible. In short there really is nothing to do but stay dry and safe inside your own home until Monday.  
Perfect day to write.  You would think so.  The legend is that Mary Shelly created Frankenstein as a story she told her husband and several other writers on vacation.  It was a summer when their vacation retreat became snowed in and there was nothing for the group of writers to do but stay indoors and tell stories.  For them that was writing rehearsal.  
So, here on this unusually dark and rainy California weekend, it is perfect weather to write the next great classic. 
Or is it? 
I have this romantic notion that writing is all about environment.  Like Spaulding Gray's lament, there seem to be physical places or situations that are better for writing than others. What is the perfect place and the perfect weather, and does it affect your writing?  Perhaps for those writers the caliber of Mr. Gray and Mrs. Shelly this is true, but for me, environment has nothing to do with it. 
I keep thinking how great it would be to go to the coffee house and write, or maybe the library or some secluded cabin in the woods where the ideas would just flow. As wonderfully adventurous as that is I know places do not inspire my ideas.  
In reality the physical place disappears in the work.  The story/article/blog takes center attention and when the Muse is around the idea can be written anywhere. So far I have not found a place where my Muse likes to hang out, so I can find her when I am in need of her help. She shows up on a schedule of her own and departs without notice.  The one consistent quality to every Muse. When she arrives she demands all your attention.  If the writer's Muse is offended by lack of attention she sends Writers block. You can't write no matter where you are or what you do that's Writers Block.  
There is no other specific term for creative stagnation. If you are not inspired to paint you do not have painters block.  Lets just call it Artistic Block.  Artistic Block is the inability to participate in the creative activity of your soul.  Artistic Block is not just a barrier in the road to creativity, a thing like high water in the street to avoid, go around and get back on the path.  It is a complete lack of direction, the path is not just blocked it is gone. Whatever the stumbling block it must become your stepping stone. 
For me, I am blessed with a bevy of Muses. One of them is always around even if the rest are gone. When the writing Muse is absent it usually means that the drawing Muse is attending.  If I don't feel inspired to write then I am inspired to draw.  The drawing Muse has been around for a couple of weeks. Of course the Muse of ventriloquism is always stays but works much more than the other two and needs to have rest.
Outside is grey and over cast.  There are no shadows and rain comes in shifts.  My corduroy shirt maintains a perfect temperature as I watch the back yard enjoy a long shower. I have several electronic devices around me ready to record this experience in any way imaginable. My choice is to preserve the moment this way: What will we see from the vantage point of the next stepping stone?
As you were,

1 comment:

P. Grecian said...

I used to be able to write anywhere, but the last few years I only feel comfortable doing it in my little cave-office.

My son writes for a living as well, and can write in a plane, in a hotel room, waiting for his order. I can't. It is because of this that I don't have a laptop.

When I go to visit theatres doing my shows, I know that I couldn't possibly write in a hotel room. But I used to be able to.

There's a story about Walter Gibson, who wrote most of the old "Shadow" novels under a nom de plume, and several other pulp novels as well...and often, several at a time. He was having a house built, but the construction crew was late finishing. Meanwhile, Gibson had to vacate the place he'd been staying, so he took his writing tools to the house being built, set up three nail kegs, put typewriters on the two outside kegs and sat on the middle one and wrote two novels at once, turning back and forth, as the roof went on the place.

You've got to admire that.