Some nights the words bounce around my skull, demanding I rise early from bed and let them out. Sometimes the ideas pour from my fingertips – reams of bumpf carrying tiny nuggets of fool’s gold to urge me on. They sparkle in the flow. They glimmer. They invite me to dip my hands in and feel the rush creep up my arms and carry away my mind.
Other days I can’t hang on to my thoughts. I can’t keep hold of the direction I’ve told myself to go in. It’s like trudging through a thick morass while holding on to someone’s hand who doesn’t want to stay with me.
There are days when I’m lost. I scream in frustration. I weep in helpless rage.
I sink to floor and want to die because everything I do is wrong and worse why do I think I could be a published author of any kind other than the tragically horrendous variety?
I need the words to flow.
The words don’t come.
I sit at my desk and flog my hands, trying to force the story out.
I leave my desk and grab pen and paper, retracing my route or jumping out with a brand new statement. Sometimes more words flow, like water spilled from a cup on the table. Quick! Catch it all before it falls to the floor and gets soaked up by the rug.
Sometimes my pen taps at the blank page. What am I doing wrong? Why am I stuck?
I can feel the words in my head, in my chest, trying to get out. I can feel the ideas sloshing up against the dam wall, sloppy and jumbled and the floodgates are jammed closed. Nothing comes out, nothing makes sense, nothing connects with anything else.
The spillway beneath the dam is dry. Words haven’t flowed here in what feels like forever. It’s lifeless, dull. Why won’t the floodgates open? Examine the plans – they’re barely sketches in some spots but highly detailed in others.
The floodgates are open. The reservoir is low behind the dam. The words don’t even reach up to the gates. Forgotten husks of ideas are exposed, decaying husks that even upon reflection are best left alone to fall apart.
Words trickle into the reservoir, but most evaporate before they can affect the depth.
I pray for rain. The sky mocks me and my selfish desires.
I could leave. I could find somewhere new. Perhaps I could find the words elsewhere? Perhaps I can seek them out and cut a new channel and guide the words into the reservoir. That would work, wouldn’t it?
No. No funds to seek out new sources. No time in the schedule to squeeze in a few days or weeks for such a mission. I need to be able to go and not worry about destinations, just follow my nose and stop when I need to. Like a witching rod divining water, just let it lead me around until it finds what I need.
Is there a spell for that?
There has to be a way. The words have flow again. I can just see them. I can just see the ideas floating about, trapped inside a still-water pond that looks like it’s shrinking more and more every day.
The purpose of the dam’s design was to improve the flow – make it constant and consistent. Measured out day by day, it’s always supposed to be there. It isn’t supposed to stop. It isn’t supposed to get backed up or fall too low to use.
At night I go over the scenes in my head. Just relax, let the idea play out as it wants to – don’t force it. Just let it flow where it needs to go.
Old pathways sometimes dampen. Forgotten streambeds glisten for a moment. Excited, I follow them until to get my feet stuck in mud trying to slurp off my boots with vindictive purpose.
Dammit, dammit, dammit. I need the flow. Without the flow I feel empty.
What happens if I ignore the reservoir? What if I bend my efforts to something else? Things can be built, items made, costumes sewn, fibers woven, beads stitched down. So many projects on the list that haven’t been completed in part because the spillway had run full and wonderful and the reservoir had been so deep it was a pleasure to dive into the words, to feel the stories streaming past my skin.
Now the spillway is dry. Now if I jump into the reservoir I risk injury because it’s so shallow I could hit the bottom.
I can work on other things. I can show the gods they don’t matter, I can create in other ways. The ideas burst forth with fabric and glue and clay and beads and…
In some ways it feels hollow.
Ignore the words. Don’t look, don’t look. Pretend the words aren’t important like a child trying reverse psychology on a cat.
Will it work?