Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Serendipity and epiphanies

So just last night, I started a whiny, complaining email to one of my friends about writing. I got just one sentence typed in it before I decided it was rude to inflict my selfish woes on her and saved the email to draft instead of finishing and sending it. The sentence was:

I've probably said this before, but I do not appear to write well when I am not obsessing over someone.

And I thought nothing more of it. Just went to bed reading, as I usually do. My current novel is in PDF form, so I switched to a new book and read the first three chapters of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. Now, I'm not reading this book to learn how to draw (though I won't mind at all if my drawing abilities improve!), but this book is very highly recommended by Holly Lisle in her Think Sideways class. The lessons in the book are designed not so much to teach you how to draw as how to perceive things with the right half of your brain, so the drawing then comes naturally. Holly recommends this book for everyone, not just artists or even writers. I figured I'd better check it out, as I've really enjoyed the class and I respect Holly's opinion.

And right when I got ready to close the book for the night, that's when I realized (in a non-verbal right brain flash, LOL) that that's what "obsession" meant to me, and why I'd written that one sentence earlier. I've been using obsession to access the right half of my brain. It's my shortcut, my jumpstart. I mean, what happens when I obsess over some actor? I spend a lot of time daydreaming, a lot of time thinking in images not words. A lot of time letting the right half of my brain run completely and happily amuck while my left brain tries to tell me how completely silly I am, how useless it is to spend perfectly good hours lost daydreaming about dead actors, and to get back to reality. Right. This. Second. Every novel I've written has come during an obsession over one actor or another. From Sam Neill to Sean Bean to Vic Morrow to Dana Andrews to a little unknown actor no one has heard of named Fletcher Fist. I write very well when I can't get those actors out of my head.

So yes. My whining, complaining observation was actually valid: I haven't been writing well since November because I'm not obsessing over anyone anymore. Or in more logical words: I'm not accessing or listening to the right half of my brain as easily as I do when I'm gone over someone who appeals to me. And my left brain cannot write a novel without the right brain.

I guess this book has come along at a good time, as there appear to be no actor obsessions in my near future. I can use the book's techniques to get to the same place, and possibly in a better manner (though I can't see it as being quite as fun as my previous method.... :-D)

I am very interested now to finish reading this book and see where it takes me.


  1. Brilliant! Glad you've come to this important realization :-D Though I'm not sure I'd refer to Fletcher Fist as "little," lol.

  2. I'm the same exact obsession over dead actor equals a lot less writing.

    Sounds like an interesting book. :)