He stood on the other side of the door. I knew it was him. For weeks I felt his presence, a movement at the edge of my vision, a shadow in the mirror disappearing when I leaned in for a closer look. Now he stood on my front stoop, dressed in purple pajamas or a pants suit. The fabric was crushed velvet. I’ve seen the velvet Elvi and this looked like the same material, only in deep purple.
“Um,” I said. Looking at him, bald, barely up to my shoulders and wearing that ridiculous purple outfit, I wondered why I wasn’t laughing, no chuckles, not even a twitch of my lips. “Do I know you?”
He merely stood, tilting his head to one side and contemplated me. I began to fidget. He reminded me of–motion. No, he reminded me of constant motion. As if his current stillness was unnatural. He was a predator. And he was looking at me in a manner that made me wonder how long it had been since he had last eaten.
“You’re kidding me,” he said. “You really don’t remember.”
“Uh,” I have found that I often use my wit as a shield during uncomfortable confrontations. “Do I?”
“It’s been over fifteen years!” He snapped and slapped the door frame with an open palm. Cheek high. I saw no movement, just felt the breeze of his hand passing my face. The implication was clear. That could have been my head. “I’ve killed for you! I’m wearing this goddamned purple outfit because of you!”
“Wait,” I said, holding up my palms and patting the air between us. “You’re–”
“Yes,” he interrupted. “And for the past eight months I’ve been strapped to damned rock table with some kind of half-assed fire demon chewing through my chest. Would you mind moving the plot along a bit? I really could use some fresh air.”
“Um, wait–what?” I asked, spearing him with a zinger from my stockpile of snarky retorts.
“Move. The. Story. Along. Before. Someone. Gets. Hurt.” He poked my ribs to add emphasis to each syllable.
“Move the story along,” I gasped. The pokes to my ribs had emptied my lungs and they seemed disinclined, at present, to refill at any capacity.
“Before you get hurt,” he said, nodding at my comprehension.
“This kinda hurts,” I moaned.
“You’re lucky,” he said. “You almost had this conversation with that ancient, Egyptian, death spirit. He’s pissed.”
We all have experienced those voices. For some of us, the voices wither and die away, just an annoying distraction to be brushed aside. In others, they grow into such a cacophony that reality tends to disappear. Read Bradbury, Poe, Burroughs, or more contemporary authors, Butcher, Child, Silva and imagine these authors ignoring the voices in their heads. In what special hell would they now be living if they had done that?
I read once that Piers Anthony writes between 5-10,000 words a day. Crazy, right? I used to think so. But then I researched other authors. Some would travel, spending weeks, sometimes months, in solitude, until their work was complete. . Others locked themselves in their home offices/dens, cutting off all contact with family during the evening hours. Even J.K. Rowling scribbled on napkins and scrap paper until her novels took shape.
The point is that you must write. Write every day. Don’t let yourself get bogged down in the minutiae of daily life. For instance, just now I stopped writing and removed two spiders from the wall behind my desk. There went almost three minutes of my day, not writing. Minutiae.
I do admit that there are things that do need attention. Rooms to paint. Cracks to seal. Windows to wash and weeds are choking the flower beds around the house. But those are merely…unsightly. Close your eyes. Turn your head. Hell, even moving to a different room makes the problems cease being problems. Well, they cease to be problems that require immediate attention.
But the characters in our stories, the ideas forming half-resolved plots do need consideration, and lots of it. They might never be widely heralded (Take note publishers. I know who you are and where to submit), but ignoring them is not the solution. Life happens around you every day and if you let it distract you, ideas fail. Characters that once fired your imagination with vitality slowly wither and fade to little more than white noise on a white page.
And if you are serious about your writing, the thought of allowing this to happen should just drive you crazy.