Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why "The Legacy Human" Reminds Me Of Writing

I’m currently reading The Legacy Human, by Susan Kaye Quinn. It’s a gripping story about a young man who plans to use his artistic ability to win a competition, a competition where the winner will have his consciousness inserted into a synthetic body that will allow him to join the other Ascenders and live forever. The trouble is, his best paintings only occur when he’s in a fugue state, a sort of out-of-body experience that brings out the best of his abilities, and he can’t control when the fugue comes and goes. As I said, an excellent story you might want to check out. If you’re interested, I’ll be posting a review of it next week.

But Susan’s story got me to thinking. Even though the fugue state in the book was associated with painting, it seems to me it’s a perfect analogy for writing. Most of the time, we writers sit in front of the computer (or pad of paper) and force ourselves to write, regardless of whether the muse is willing or not, hoping against hope we will slip into the writer’s version of the fictive dream where everything just seems to come together.

I slipped into one of those states this morning while sitting in bed, still half asleep*. I wasn’t trying to do this; it just happened on its own. Suddenly I found my mind sliding back to one of the earlier chapters in my story and running through it as if I were watching a movie. The dialogue, the internal thoughts, the descriptions—they just appeared in my head as if someone was reading them to me. Someone who knew what they were doing. Needless to say, I rushed to the computer and began typing everything down before the feeling evaporated.

It’s a wondrous feeling when you’re experiencing it, and incredibly exasperating when you’re not. Considering all the people in the world who want to be writers, if someone were to ever invent a way to trigger that mental state on command, I suspect they’d make a fortune.

 I’d buy it in a second.


How about you? Have you found the secret to entering the fictive writer’s dream?


*I know my kids are dreading the return of school, and I feel for them, but the sooner school starts, the sooner they’ll go to bed earlier, which means the earlier I can get to bed too. I’m definitely not a morning person, even if it is the time when the fictive dreams come to me most often.

ChemistKen


12 comments:

  1. I don't have the answer, but I live for those times... when my typing fingers can't keep up with my brain. :)

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    1. I just remembered, that's one of the few downsides of the fictive dream--when I feel the words slipping away because I can't type fast enough. Very annoying!

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  2. If I can establish the right mood with music, I can usually hit it.

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    1. Sometimes, the right music seems to help. Otherwise, music distracts me too much from the writing.

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  3. You know, 90% of my stories ideas come directly from dreams. Seriously. The subconscious is the best creative tool we have.

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    1. Unfortunately, I don't seem to ever remember my dreams anymore. Who knows what great stories I've thought up while asleep? :(

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  4. Lots of stories about a pseudo-fugue state associated with creativity. Charles Dickens loved opium.

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  5. I loved The Legacy Human! I'm reading the sequel at the moment and it's just as good. The fugue state is a great metaphor for writing - this is probably why I'm getting so much writing done at night when I'm half-asleep lately, because I'm not fretting over the quality!

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  6. I love that feeling when it happens! I would say the majority of the time, I sit down and force myself to write, but those wondrous moments when that fugue state occurs, oh, how I relish it.

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  7. I don't think I've ever just written in a fury. I've thought of trying alcohol, but that's a slippery slope ;)

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  8. I feel like I can slip into that state of mind pretty easily whenever. The key is to get rid of all anxiety and left brain chatter. I'm so used to just ignoring it by now. I know I'm safe when I'm writing my 1st drafts because they are for my eyes only. It's like writing in a diary or a journal. Why have critical thinking for that? I use my left brain when I revise after the 1st draft is finished. My right brain is free to fly when it's needed.

    I do, however, find it hard to do this if I'm very emotional or super exhausted. I'm not a machine, after all!

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  9. I live for that fugue state writing when the character's voice is SO STRONG all I have to do is listen and type as fast as I can. But it doesn't always come that easy, and I have to keep writing even when I don't reach that "fugue." Considering only 50% of the manuscripts I've written in the past 6 years have ended up under contract, I need to keep writing whether the muse shows up or not!

    Coincidentally, my current WIP is titled FUGUE. It's a historical mystery -- something I've done before -- but in a different time period, and it's non-chronological, and parts are written in first person present tense, which I've never done before. I probably need to be in a fugue state myself just to write it!

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