I was planning to write a (probably) very long ramble on the culture war, but you, Delicious Reader, have been saved from that fate by the words of Dr. Ellis, writing on Morning, Computer [I always want to put an ‘!’ at the end of that, because it reads in my head retrofuture-y, the family Robinson waking up cheery and radium-filled before they realize that they live at the tyranny of machine intelligence. Which is not a reflection on the content, obvs. Anyway…]
Try this, for a minute. Try to describe your experience of how your brain works. Think of a metaphor that works for you. Then describe your experience of the thing that stops it working. Explain your brain to yourself. It’s a good way to surface the problems, and perhaps the ways to solve them. The inside of your own head is really pretty amazing in ways that are unique to you. Even the annoying or “bad” parts. Sit and breathe and watch it go, and then paint a picture of it with words. That’s all we do, here in hermit country. Paint with words. Sit down next to me.
What would be my metaphor? Mud-diving? Abseiling? Listening-to-birds? Gardening? Communing with Ghosts? Excavations and salvage-operations, perhaps. I think that whatever metaphor I pick, it’s got to have space for that low-attention processing thing where you’re half-listening in on your burbling subconscious, hopefully without waking it up. But then again there’s also the obsessive, Promethean-fire, fingers-in-the-cookie-jar thing.
I can’t remember where I picked up the ‘follow your obsessions’ advice. Probably Grayson Perry. Of course, it’s not a prescription for everything, but it helps with writing. It’s like Phase 1 of turning around and working with what’s rattling around your head, rather than shoe-horning it into market-shapes. In a Baptising Your Demons kind of way, this advice reminds me of what the Buddhists term Viriya, or mental energy, which was once described to me like this: the mind is full of energy, thought-processes, feelings. If left to burble away it generates Kamma, or conditioned-responses, but if you enlighten it, work with it, it gets transformed into Viriya, or willpower, direction.
[Yeah I know, pseudomystic ramblings. Stick with me for a moment.]
That energy is going to be there no matter what. That’s what being alive does to the insides of your skull. In the same way, story-obsessions burble away until you baptise them. Maybe that weird-arse psychopompian meditation-novel on London needed to be written, just so it can be a gateway drug for other ideas, or so it frees up the psychic load to concentrate on the next shiny thing.
Brains and minds are weird, life is short. Make stuff.