Saturday, March 26, 2016

Alien Jungles

   Sometimes, writing feels like an alien compulsion; the words well up from within, unstoppable. They will be put down on paper, and they will do it now, regardless of what you want.
   The story is an extraterrestrial entity, taking possession of your body in order to express itself. 
   And other times...You battle onward, abandoned by your infernal Muse to hack through a dangerous jungle on your own. You keep going because you can't just leave that story out there in those wastes. It may have abandoned you, but you will never abandon it. Once you have tasted madness, you will never go back.
   Why seems an irrelevant question. To those who know, it does not matter why. It only matters when. When can I do it again? It's that 'sensation of spinning, blinded by love and daring' (Annie Dillard, The Writing Life). It's a frantic waltz with the sublime.
   The imagination bubbles and simmers, taking things in, eye of newt and toe of frog, boiling them, changing them. The imagination is a witch's cauldron, frothed by the flames of the senses, stirred by the mundane, the mystical, and the beautiful in life. And it is fraught with peril.
   You have gone out into the fetid coiling vines, the nest of vipers and of bird eating spiders. You are unarmed, unprotected.
   "I have spread my dreams under your feet; Tread softly because you tread on my dreams." (William Butler Yeats, He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven ). You are exposing your soul when the reader opens your pages.
   It is a danger worth risking, a peril both terrifying and delightful. What kind of alien entity is controlling you? You suspect it is not a terrible black chitinous endoparasitoid. You suspect it is more of an ethereal silvery exctoparasitoid that only occupies you briefly as a cocoon and then develops fully outside of you, a papery butterfly covered in colorful wings and filled with magic.
   Metaphors can be dangerous, especially when mixed. Ravenous mongrels, those.
   Be careful, be wary. The jungle is deep. The way is difficult but the rewards are bountiful.

      I was supposed to talk about what inspired me to write, but I got sidetracked into a metaphorical murmuring. I can't really nail down where my inspiration comes from. As I've indicated above, it seems a very myriad source. I am often inspired by very vague mysteries, an image, a sound that holds a feeling, theme, or certain psychological sensation. Visuals especially. I can watch a film and be captured by a single shot, inspired by the possibilities of one image. I'm always inspired by other books. Little fragments here and there break off of material I read, see, or listen to and collect inside me. The writer is not only a cocoon but a fertile field where seeds are sown and grow into wild new hybrids. Ravenous mongrels. The fields become wild again, jungles.. Bountiful jungles.

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