I’m finally getting onto my brain’s secrets…
I haven’t written a single word in my new novel for a couple of weeks. I had gotten to a point where I had killed my darlings, which is always painful, and had moved on and sort of gotten stuck. I know, which is unusual for me, how the book ends, but I don’t know how to get there.
When I write a book, every story is radically different. Sure, there are commonalities, themes that are recurrent, you might even distinguish a red thread, the hopeful endings for instance, or the fact that so far, my main protagonists are gay men. But where Family Ties was very autobiographic, Jonathan’s Hope was romance and fairy tale, The Opera House was all about parenting and homelessness while The Fallen Angels of Karnataka deals with inner growth, child abuse and redemption. My upcoming novel Willem of the Tafel is science fiction with a strong message about our society and environment. The yet untitled Opus 6 is a nightmare, and I think that word will eventually find its way into the final title.
When I started writing Family Ties and Jonathan’s Hope, all I had were two images, a man standing over an open grave site for the former (it’s how the book starts) and a man walking around a frozen lake with his dog (the latter.) Both images prompted me to write full length novels, without knowing how they’d end or how I’d get there. I just went with the flow. Subsequent inspiration came from my son for The Opera House, and in hindsight, I know I was inspired by Larry Benjamin’s What Binds Us to start writing The Fallen Angels of Karnataka and a convicted pedophile we knew years ago to finish that book.
For Willem of the Tafel, the inspiration came from a dance performance, and I found inspiration to finish the book from struggles in current affairs. Yet as I look back, a pattern is emerging. I see how my writing is influenced by things that happen around me, things I perceive and start to process but forget, at least consciously. Yet in my subconscious, these processes start to gnaw at me, my mind is in overdrive, and subconsciously I scream at injustice, I feel an ever-growing need to do something. Just the other day, when we were at the Opera, I had to witness the torture of a witch on stage. Yes, it was very uncomfortable to watch (I wrote about it) But even more so, while I was sitting in my comfy chair, I could literally hear my brain tell me to get up and avenge all those women (and men) who were convicted of witch craft and killed. Here’s the deal: this all happened over three hundred years ago. Yet women are still raped, hit, abused & killed, daily, everywhere. And my brain is swimming in its juice and is absolutely outraged at all this, be it judges who still, in 2015, try to excuse rapes with a woman’s dress or behavior (that the defense does it is bad enough, but the judges?), the fact that our largest labor union sets a target of reducing wage inequality by 6% until 2030 (leaves about 20% to go…) or, or, or. I haven’t even left Sweden yet, one of the most feminist countries with a foreign minister who just got us into hot water with her talk of Saudi Arabia’s middle age treatment of women… Imagine how bad it is elsewhere!
Yesterday, I had to take our oldest cat to the vet for a check-up for his thyroid glands. Since I can’t talk to him, I was listening to some great music and thinking, and I noticed how my outrage at the treatment of women was working itself from my subconscious regions dealing with current events to my arts center, from my left hemisphere to the right. I can’t really lash out. I’m no super hero who hunts down rapists and employers (mostly public) who pay women badly. What I can do, as a writer, is to write, and use my pencil as a sword. Throughout the day, images started to wash over me, images of torture, rape etc. scenes from my book, scenes I haven’t written yet. They’re visualizing inside my mind, and all I have to do now is to put them to paper, and knowing myself, 10-15K words can be written before the end of the week. It’s just how I work.
My subconscious, and I’m pretty sure yours works similarly if you allow yourself to listen to it, works wonders, and I’m finally starting to understand how the process works, on a conscious level. This also means that whenever I feel writer’s block, I can tune into my subconscious, listen to the cog wheels turning, and make something of it. Call it what you will, I’ll stick to subconscious writing, although it is slowly morphing into something else. Understanding how my brain works allows me to consciously tap into it, and even though my writing will be more conscious, I can optimize (horrible word for an artist to use, sorry) usage of my subconscious.
Yesterday was a very good day, at least in terms of understanding how my brain actually works. Now my fingers are literally burning, and you’ll forgive me if I can’t wait to get through today’s chores (including this post) to get back to my manuscript. I need to write about rape and torture… LOL (Trust me, it’s all good!)
So, you other writers out there? Have you already discovered this process? Can you consciously tap into it? Or do you belong to the group of writers who just simply come up with the entire story, chapter by chapter, before you even write it? Let’s hear it in the comments below. I’m still at the beginning of my process of understanding my brain’s musings, eager to learn more.
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Have an amazing Tuesday!
Hans M Hirschi
author & braniac…