Is there anybody out there?

You’re born alone, you die alone, and in between you write alone. You can debate me on the semantics if you want to, but I think you get my point. You can be in a room full of people, or hidden away in some exclusive enclave; the process of writing is still a closed circuit looping in your brain. It’s just you and your invisible alternate universe. If neurons are flowing freely, you can hear breathing, smell sweat, sense tension, notice shifts in moods, all this as words flood your brain with descriptions that you desperately attempt to make tangible before they disappear like sand in the wind.

You can get lost in there. Entire conversations can flow around you, even at you, and you can miss what’s going on because your reality just can’t compete with your imagination. If you’re a writer that’s usually a good thing. Unfortunately, most of us have to crawl back into the light at some point and give just due to our loved ones, and perhaps anyone else we feel obligated to pay attention to.

And, as easy as it is to be completely anti-social, as many creative people often are, our alternate universes will starve without outside stimuli. You can’t make diverse characters believable if you never talk to anybody. Life experiences are the backbone to any decent work of art, and that requires leaving the keyboard once in a while and actually living.

I’m not great at meeting people. I have to work at it. I have to make myself go to events. I have to be open to the possibility that someone might not take to me, or I to them. Every introduction is a potential confrontation.

My people up here in the stubborn cold consider direct eye contact suspicious. If it weren’t for churches and bars, no one would leave the house. I’m not exaggerating when I say only strong drink or an act of God is required for us to socialize with confidence.

So I’m thrilled that I took my friend Debbie’s advice and joined her writer’s group at the local community ed. We met in an official class capacity this spring and have continued in a less official capacity this summer.  We read our work to each other (no homework, thank god) and discuss story ideas, critique each others work, or just shoot the shit. I had lunch with two of the people I met there. It was nice.

When I put myself on these tight deadlines, like for Book 4: Torso in the Torrent (due out this fall! I promise), I tend to draw inward and keep people out. I battle my demons as I flesh out the book, tie up loose ends, and polish what I can before the editors get to it.

Sleep is sometimes interrupted, errands get put off, forget house cleaning, everything else gets neglected when I’m running that loop in my brain. I just have to remember to come back once and a while and say “Hello, remember me? I didn’t forget you. Thank you for not forgetting me either.”

3 Responses to “Is there anybody out there?”

  • Brenda Boe:

    Chris, please post these blogs on facebook – they are REALLY GOOD!

  • Keldi Merton:

    Chris, I love your writing style! I completely understand being sucked into your work and not coming up for air for long stretches of time! I’m glad you emerge every once in a while, but I also appreciate the effort it takes to create the characters and story lines which keep us all entertained!