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Why We Do What We Do

22 Jul

 

 

It’s a basic question: why?

Do we do it for love? Or do it for money?

How about neither?

Imagine turning on a radio, tinny music from a single small speaker bringing your favourite song to life.

Now imagine playing that same song on high-quality stereo speakers. Ah – much better.

Now turn up the bass until your bones throb in harmony, until that song has its own colour when you close your eyes. Air guitar. Air drums. You want – need – to sing along. Go ahead: drain your lungs. Belt out those lyrics, baby.

Take it another step: you are playing an instrument, the orchestra swelling around you, hot stage lights provoking beads of sweat, drums behind you making you startle at their chaos. Organized sound, yet you are lost inside it, surrendering to its triumph. Immersed in the music, you are part of something much bigger than you.

Athletes refer to “runners’ high” when endorphins, manufactured to inhibit pain, produce a feeling of euphoria. Musicians must experience a similar event, too.

And so it must follow that writers, during their creative process, experience a state of existence so intense it pings the brain in a unique way.

The science behind the creative process, while fascinating, has yet to be completely understood. A topic that provokes more research.

But for now we can simply call it “writers’ high”.

And that’s my theory as to why we do what we do.

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New Project

5 Mar

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When a story is mulled over long enough, it begins to take shape. It has no title yet, no names picked for characters. Those details will come. The premise was something I’ve thought about for a long time – a romance about a woman, a ghost, and a castle…

Only, when I started to outline the story it kept leaning towards a tale of primal horror.

No.

I kept trying to format it back to a love story, fought with the outline, revised the catalyst…but at some point it took on its own shape and changed into something completely thematically different.

I’ve never written a real cover-your eyes jump-scare don’t-go-into-the-basement screamer. Sure, I’ve seen plenty of movies and TV shows, read lots of books. Fuelled by a steady diet of The Dead Files and Stephen King, I should be able to do this. Should. The reality of making it happen seemed like a good idea at the time (kind of like sky-diving, until you have to jump out of the airplane).

The first week, I could not wait for a free moment to sketch out a few scenes, re-arrange them to fit. The mood was Unbridled Enthusiasm. Then I hit the half-way mark in story mapping, and that sneaky bastard Doubt wandered into the room, mocking my efforts.

Is it scary enough? Or more importantly, original enough? With no sinister soundtrack, no creepy visual effects, no jump-scares, can I frighten people with only words?

I meant it to be a romance story. Honest, I did. I tried.