EDITORIAL: ON CREATIVITY

So, I've made it no secret that I admire the determination of the folk over at Redhand Studios. Hell, I think they may be the single most tweeted at group in my Twitter history, and if I felt like slogging through 4000-ish tweets to tally it up, I could back that up with math. They are also possibly the biggest supporters of our blog, which is also awesome. Well, recently they started up their own blog over on Tumblr called "The Other Side of the Lens" (Link above in the "Friends of the Fist" section). Recently, an unidentified member of their team (I suspect Amber.... but meh) wrote a post that can be seen HERE. I followed that up with a response, that served as the basis for this blog post... Enjoy.

For me, creativity is a lot like a road. There is always a start point, and there is that inevitable end. Along the way, there are points of interest, and thousands of potential diversions. The speed changes, the scenery changes. There are spots where things stop, and you aren't always traveling the road alone. There are times when you want to have music blaring, and there are times when you just need silence. Sometimes, in the middle, you lose site of the end, and you can no longer see the beginning, and that can be a frightening time.

For me, the scariest time in the entire creative journey is the point where the road ends. The story reaches its natural end point. But I don't want the story to end, so I turn my car around, and head back toward the beginning. Suddenly, I am looking at the path I took, and I wonder... Why didn't I go over here, or over there... soon the end point is no longer certain, and the only logical thing is to head back to the beginning, and start all over. 

The best part of the creative process for me, is the journey. But that is how I am in life. I love the journey, but often dread the destination because it means the end of my journey. Indulge me, if you will, in a story that illustrates this a bit.

Several years ago, I decided that I wanted to see Green Day in concert. Looking at their tour schedule, they weren't coming within my standard 2 hour travel distance, so it was evident that I would have to make the trek out to see them. There were a few cities that were within a reasonable distance, but  I chose to see them in Washington DC. It is important at this point, to note that at the time I lived in Fairfield, Oh, which is a short drive north of Cincinnati. A sane person would have taken the most direct route possible. Me, I decided to head up through Pittsburgh, and then hit Intercourse, PA, and then spend a couple days roaming around New York City, and then head over to Red Bank, NJ, and you know what... I had never seen the Atlantic ocean before, so I had to stop there....I did whatever I could to prolong the journey, to keep it from ending.

For me, that is the creative process. And it is likely why I gravitate towards books that relish in the journey. I loved the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, and later by Brandon Sanderson. The trip was almost excruciatingly long. But I loved it, because the longer that trip lasted, the less I had to worry about that eventual end. Now that it is over, it is kind of a depressing thing, the road is closed, and no matter how much I'd like to see what was happening elsewhere, it will never happen.

When I write, I love discovering who my characters are, and where they are going. I like finding their voice, and seeking the answers to their problems along with them. But sometimes, as that journey progresses, I stop. And when I stop, I turn around, and I examine the road I have traveled, and I wonder... How did my character get here? What did I do to bring them to this point, and why aren't they at a different point. And that... that is where it all goes awry. Soon after, the path is broken because I ventured off on too many tangents, and I find that not only have I lost sight of the end, but the characters have gotten fed up with my shenanigans, and ran off to do something else.

So there you go, my thoughts on the creative process, or at least my version of it. Perhaps now you know why I have so many issues finishing stories I start. And if you don't, perhaps it is time to turn around, and head back to the beginning, and try to see where I lost you.