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Jun 26

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The Burden of a Fertile Mind

Writers, you might want to just skip this post because you probably know what I’m talking about.  Fiction writers, that is.  Those cursed with writing television commercials, greeting cards, and obituaries might have a different experience, but those born with the disposition — some might say congenital need — to invent sundry worlds and characters to preserve them for posterity, there can be at times a deadly conundrum.  Especially if your mind is “fertile.”

I didn’t always understand that my mind was fertile.  I was informed of that fact by the instructor of a homiletics class.  I forget the point of that particular presentation, but I started with writing a few words on the board — words in one of the alien languages I have invented for my novels.  Korishak, to be precise.  The instructor, in addition to being the pastor of our church, was also quite a bit of an intellectual in his own right, and stared at the wording as if I’d broken into an ancient tomb in southern Judea and discovered something dazzling.  He was fascinated, and it was he who told me I had a fertile mind.

OK, so my mind is fertile.  How is that a burden?

Well, look to the sidebar at the right.  There is a section entitled “WIP Status.”  First off, I’d like to give credit where it is due; I got the idea of a works in progress status from the site of another indie writer, Fiona Skye, although I did mine differently.  I welcome you to go check out her site.  fiona-skye.com.  Those five titles listed there might not look like a whole lot, but it is prudent to dish things out in small doses.  Those are the ones either published or in the works to be fairly soon.  In other words, they are the ones that are current.  Now, find the link at the bottom of that section that says “more…” and click it.

Unless you have a weird browser or Javascript disabled, you see see a clearer picture of what is roiling beneath the surface.  And that’s still not all.  The Gift, which is the book I invented Korishak for is not there.  It could be my crowning masterpiece if only I were good enough to write it.  It’s on hold in the hope that I’ll feel more competent at some later date.  Nor are novels that I’ve abandoned because I’ve used their ideas elsewhere, or that I’m not sure I want to pursue, or that I don’t have the courage to publish.  Nor is The Seal of Inheritance, which I wrote 20-30,000 words on in the days of typewriters and lost the manuscript.  It would have been good, and I might write it over if my backlog clears up a bit.

And that’s the burden: the backlog.

Those born with the congenital need to write seem to have no trouble coming up with stories.  They come.  They ooze from the baseboard, from fractured dreams, from scenes in movies, from passing comments on the street, from disjointed images that pass through the mind.  A child on a merry-go-round may explode into a novel.  The plots solidify and take form, and with them, characters crawl from the primordial slime and evolve into friends, acquaintances, and enemies, bringing with them their own stories.  Then, when you think the dust has settled, they multiply like rabbits.

No, the writer has no shortage of ideas.  The problem is in communicating them.  It might take a year to write a novel.  The Lastchild look longer than that, and found its birth on my laptop during the evenings I spent in motel rooms around the world as I traveled for my job.  Nemesis came out in a couple of months, a sudden inspiration.  Most fall somewhere in between.  But once it’s written, that’s only the beginning.  It is a travesty to stop there; you have a story to share, and the muse that led you would be sorely offended to allow to her genius to gather dust.  So then comes the process of revising, editing, proofing, all in complex combinations and interminable repetition.  If you go the the traditional publishing route, you face the endless submission/rejection cycles, spending your life’s savings on postage that usually ends up wasted on some editor who had a bad night.  Cycles that can repeat for years.  If you go the self-publishing route, you enter the production and marketing phases, which, if you are lucky, may take only as much time as it took to write the novel in the first place.

Yes, writing takes time, and producing a book often takes more time.  The ideas come, and continue to come, at a rate faster than they can be turned into finished products.  The backlog builds, and builds, and builds, until you look at the the growing list and conclude that you will never live long enough to publish them all.

Because the ideas never stop coming.

You realize that there must come seeds of brilliant inspiration that will never be shared, that will join you forever in the grave simply because the constraints of reality intervene.  Flashes of intoxicating imagination that must of necessity die.

That is the burden of a fertile mind.

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