A Patter of Creativity

The problem with a wanting to be a writer is that it doesn’t follow a 9-5 schedule. The same is true for any creative field: writers, painters, musicians… you can’t just turn on the creative switch and get to work.

Actually, I tell a lie. You can. You do. You must. If you can’t work to a schedule and learn to produce regularly you’ll be lucky if you ever succeed. But what isn’t predictable is the spark of creativity, that first idea that you will spend the next three months hammering out on that essential regular schedule. The old adage of “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration” doesn’t only apply to inventors and geniuses.

Those ideas are kind of like weather patterns. Some people live in rainforests, with steady, predictable showers every morning; other live in deserts with droughts that last for years only to be interrupted by a sudden flash flood.

For the past couple of months I’ve been having a bit of a dry spell. It’s understandable. After all, I’ve been rather occupied with moving back to Canada and all that entails. I’ve also got one book I need to edit and another I was in the middle of writing. But both of those projects are stalled at the moment, and I found myself wishing I had some other project I could do in the here and now. Something that could help me find the kind of work I want to do.

Nothing.

Instead I’ve taken to going for long walks in the woods, camping out at Starbucks, and scratching away in my notebook v1.0. I’ve been hammering away at older ideas, following up older leads, but haven’t come up with anything new. To be honest, I was starting to get worried.

The thought kept popping into my head “You got nothin, ya hear me?” For some reason I always thought it in Burgess Meredith’s voice, like he was razzing one of Rocky’s opponents. Come to think of it, that probably should have worried me more. Who thinks in Burgess Meredith’s voice?

Eventually I decided not to worry about it. I’ve got time. I haven’t even found a place to live yet. So for now I’m content to spend my days enjoying my walks in the woods, reading and writing in the coffee shop, and seeing what develops.

On the way back from one of these walks, I thought about how far I’d come. Ten years ago I was getting ready for my biggest adventure to that point – bicycling across Canada. In a way it was the beginning of everything that followed. It’s when I first got published. I moved in with Gillian after I got back. It wasn’t long before we were thinking about moving to Japan. And eventually that lead to England. Now it’s lead me back here.

Ten years. It’s hard to believe. So much has changed, so much has stayed the same. I have the same bike I took on that trip. I have the same teddy bear mascot Gillian gave me the year before I left. I recently found all my old photographs and mementos I took along the way…

I have an idea.

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