A little while ago, my wife Kristen wrote a catchy little piece of flash fiction called A Cupcake Made of Anger. It’s about a couple having a spat in the kitchen, about how a cupcake becomes the symbolic receptacle for all the emotional overflow spilling into their relationship. I really like it. Not long after she wrote it, I started wondering if all of our creative works bear some watermark of our current emotional state, some taste of what we’re feeling at the time of birth. It’s more obvious with a novel than with a cupcake, but I think everything we build reflects our state of mind, for both good and ill. It’s ultimately passion that drives us to cook, or paint, or write… not wisdom, not intellect, not know-how.
Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because it occurred to me I haven’t been as productive these past couple of months as I should have been. I think I’m a better writer now than I was 2 years, or a year, or even 6 months ago. Intellectually. But emotionally, it’s been a weird time. We moved to California less than a year ago, leaving our house and comfortable Texas lifestyle behind. Since the move, we’ve lost 2 beloved pets to old age / illness. I’ve been working long hours at my day job, and my computer is currently crammed into a tiny office 3 feet from my wife. Love her as I do, it’s pretty cramped in here. In other words, it’s been tough to find the mental space to write. I haven’t been doing nothing, but the words haven’t come easy, and some of them aren’t as good as they should be.
So I decided I’m going to change things up this weekend. I’m taking my desk and computer and moving into the bedroom, much to the chagrin of Kristen and our current 2 cats. It’s going to make our Bay Area apartment look a little more ghetto, but it’s going to give me some space. I’ve never been the type to work well in noisy or distracting environments. Some writers will tell you that you should learn to work anywhere no matter the circumstances, but I think that’s crap. I’ve been at it long enough now to know how my brain works.
In short, I need darkness. I need solitude. I need to pack as much anger, despair, love, hope, rage, and joy into my writing as I can. These things don’t come from discord, as they do for the character’s in Kristen’s story, but rather from somewhere deep within, somewhere I can only access with deep focus. Such is the curse of the Type A introvert.
In On Writing, Stephen King advises to write (1st drafts) with the door closed. It’s always worked for me before, and the move across the hall should allow me to do it again. Change is a good thi