If you’re like me, you love to listen to or read discussions of the writing process. Continually, I’m amazed at the number of and divergent ways in which authors approach and produce their works. I think, at least in some way, all artists seek the magic formula, that one Yellow Brick Road of methodology that leads unfailingly to the zone, or groove, or pocket that they can only occasionally conjure. Call it inspiration, your muse, or mojo.
For me, my best periods of creativity come in elusive and short-lived bursts. When they arrive, I feel as if I’m not writing so much as channeling. It’s like the story already exists “out there,” and I’m merely the conduit through which it arrives and is given form. There are actually times during re-readings when I wonder, “Where did that come from? Did I write that?” On those occasions, I wonder if I can even take much credit for what I produce.
I anticipate that after SO SHELLY is published readers will wonder and some will even ask about the plot choices I made in composing the novel, and I will be forced to shrug my shoulders and admit that I didn’t actually make the choice. It happens that way in the story because that’s the way it came to me. I don’t mean to use this explanation as a cop out, as a way of avoiding responsibility for several scenes that will certainly be viewed as controversial by many and as inappropriate by some. But the story had truths that I merely reported; to not do so with absolute honesty would have been cowardly. It was the story I had to tell as much as the one I wanted to tell.
To some this will sound strange. Others will know exactly what I’m talking about. In no way do I mean to belittle or deny the importance of hard work or the genius of artistic craftsmanship. Most often, my time tapping out words is more about discipline and drudgery than inspiration, but, as a writer, I live for those rarified moments when flow, cohesion, and meaning merge and I lose myself in the process.