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Can't write by numbers

'Creative process' is an oxymoron, in my experience.

The creative part of my brain doesn't care for sensible steps, defies common sense. It is reckless and utterly ungovernable. I have decided it should have its own name, and that name should be Gonzo.

For months, ideas have been gluing themselves together in my mind, shaping themselves into the outline of a new novel. They made a protagonist I was excited to be with and an antagonist I wanted to slap, plus a banging plot and an agreeably odd setting. I helped them along with research and prep, until I could smell and taste locations, name the contents of characters’ pockets, draw the twisted arc for plot/people/place (with colour-coded annotations for pace and mood). I worked hard. I believed in this book.

Time to shut up and type, right? Apparently not. Gonzo’s synapses have not been firing and so all my starts were false. Each time I pushed my way through to the story’s world I found that it felt like a stage set. I started later and later in the story line but still sensed I’d turned up at the wrong moment. Worse, my characters would stare at me like they’d been hoping I wouldn’t come.

I didn’t give up, at first. But, a week ago Gonzo really started to mess with me, pulled a new idea out of nowhere and poked me with it. The idea related to a novel I started to write five years ago, and abandoned for excellent reasons. Gonzo didn’t care, wouldn’t shut up about it, took to waking me in the middle of the night and broadcasting into my daydreams, telling me secret after juicy secret about the new improved story, flashed intriguing details at me, made irresistible promises.

Gonzo always wins. Stories don’t write themselves but some are more helpful than others. And so, I have put aside the book I wanted to write, for the one which Gonzo insists must be written. I know exactly where it starts, and who waits for me there. She is in a hurry.

Image by Tony Gaitskell

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