ReginIt occurs to me that during yesterday’s very early morning post (this was before I even started work, people!) I missed out on a really fantastic comparison.

How could this be? Me, the writer? Missing a simile!?

Well, I should say, duh.

Yesterday during my Runes class (yes, I take a class on ancient Runes… and yes, that is super awesome) and we were talking about Regin and Sigurd, and how the sword Regin smithed was indeed the best EVAR, but it also took him three times to get it perfect (and good enough to slay a dragon, no less!).

So I realized, then, that gosh–the parallels in writing a novel and smithing are incredible. Yes, I’ve written novels before. And yes, they’re far from perfect. They would indeed “shatter” if used. But taking the time to edit, that’s like tempering the metal, refining it, making sure that it holds up.

And yes, it’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It’s physically and mentally exhausting. But in the end, the final product will be that much more durable, because I took the time to do it.

Sure, some people can learn a craft and do it flawlessly each time. But most of us mortals have to work really damn hard to get it right. Because if you care at all about your work–whether it’s swordsmithing, portrait painting, novel writing, or invention tinkering–you have to be willing to make it better. You have to be able to say, “I wrote this, but it’s okay if I delete it, because it’s not good enough.”

I suppose in a way, I have my own characters to thank for this insight, as obvious as it might have been. Brick and Cora appeared to me in a flash of clarity almost a year ago to the date, their faces as vivid as if I’d seen them across the room. And since then, they’ve taken me on quite a surprising journey. I’ve learned more writing The Aldersgate than any other work to date, and not just about the story, either. Working on The Aldersgate has given me new insight into myself, my soul, my work; I feel like I know myself better having gone through the process.

So maybe it’s not just the sword that gets tempered, but the smith, too.

It’s strange, being a writer. It’s not something you can readily explain to other people (those who don’t write or engage in creative endeavors, I mean) because it’s really a different perception of every day existence. It’s looking at life through a different filter, noticing things all the time, never being able to turn it “off.”

Lately I’ve had trouble focusing on writing simply because of my writer’s brain getting in the way. I’ve been getting story idea after story idea, in the strangest of places in the most mundane of situations (the grocery store, the bathroom, the kitchen, etc). It’s like my synapses suddenly come to life and begin multiplying, like deranged rabbits, while I look on helplessly.

I should be writing these ideas down. It would be prudent. However, I’ve been so busy in my actual existence that this hasn’t been much of an option.

Though I loved writing as a child, it wasn’t until I was about 12 or so that I realized my brain simply worked differently. I recall sitting in the lobby where I took acting classes, and one of the student’s fathers came in–he was dressed in Army camo, and I sat there for about fifteen minutes writing an entire novel about him in my head. I don’t know what it was about, other than what the fellow looked like (he was sitting to my left, against the adjacent wall). But I do know I didn’t actually know the man (the student was a dancer, younger, and not in any of my classes). Yet he lived, somehow, in my head.

Strange, yes.

Though I’ve not grown out of this past-time, I’ve certainly found less and less time to just sit and ruminate. I work in bursts, flashes, intense explosions of energy… then things get quiet. I’ve been trying to work through the quiet patches, regardless of lack of momentum, and it’s worked surprisingly well the last few months. But it’s still much harder; with the quiet times, I am more harsh on myself; I second guess myself; I question every movement.

It’s a shame that when we’re young, and time seems in abundance, that our brains are (typically) not primed to write novel-length pieces de resitances. Instead, we spend our spare time writing The Novel That Will Change the World But Really is a Thinly Veiled Novel of My Recent Crush or The Same Novel That Stephen King Just Wrote… Because when you grow up, fancy is hard to come by. Long stretches of time, where you can just let your mind wander without worrying about: money, family, relationships, taxes, death, expectations, careers, politics, religion, etc, become fewer and farther between.

So I suppose that although the ideas are coming rather in quantities too large for me to deal with (and, consequently, cutting into editing time, etc) I’ll Let It Be (to quote Mr. McCartney), ride it out, and try and hold on. It’s part of the process, just a bit on the baffling side.