The Why

The light bulb goes on in the middle of the night. Am I dreaming or wide awake?

I’m in a tiny town in North Carolina. Or a city street in Chicago. Or an imaginary world. Or in a madman’s mind.

I can’t stop.

I see characters one on top of another like a full deck of cards. I see various decks lined against each other. Each belonging to another tale. Stacks of cards that need shuffling and dealing.

I fill pages and make notes. I get acquainted with characters and discover their secrets. I visit towns and tour homes and hidden places in the shadows of my imagination.

My mind is a messy assortment of everything. A garage sale on a rainy day. A junk yard where even the rabid dog is slightly bored. You can find a little bit of anything and you can buy it for next to nothing.

I feel inspiration at the strangest times, then reality sinks in and blinds me like a desert sun. I’m thirsty and feel weak and then get replenished with more creative fuel. Memories and music and moving pictures and monumental words give back what was taken.

Then I keep going.

Because I can’t stop.

This restless energy isn’t because I have to have it. It’s always been there. I’ve just learned to tap it and keep it going. Everybody carries this dam deep inside but I’ve learned how to break it. It’s uncomfortable but it’s something that can be done.

Sometimes in my mind all of these things matter. That fantasy that took a year to come up with a storyline for. The series that’s mapped and fleshed out and ready to go. That did start but then suddenly came to a halt. The love/action/YA/horror/yeah.

The criss-crossing doesn’t bother me. Yes, my head keeps spinning but it’s always been spinning. It took forty years to figure out how to stop the tornado inside it. Now I’m the one who controls these blistering winds. I’m the one who keeps them going.

I haven’t cracked any code because there’s none to crack.

I just can’t stop.

I’m not doing this thing for relief. Not anymore.

It’s simply because there’s a fleet of ships on a restless sea and inside each one are characters waiting to breathe life and speak words and change and grow and feel and live.

Which ship do I choose and when? That’s the question.

Sometimes a new ship will come captained by a new creator. Which is fine. It just adds to the fun and the intensity. The ocean feels crowded but really we’re simply sailing in unchartered territory. Mostly unnoticed waters. Mostly stormy seas.

Looking for land.

Looking for populated land.

And if the wild swirls slow down and even stop, it doesn’t mean the ships will go away. It simply means that the fleet has slowed and stopped but that they’ll be there for tomorrow and the next day.

This creative thing isn’t about the feeling or the muse. It’s not about finding the right voice for the right moment. It’s about doing it day after day after day. Maybe ten hours a day or ten minutes. But it can be done and the stories can be told and the restlessness can be slightly appeased. Momentarily.

Until that moment when inspiration comes in the form of a smile or a sunny day or a propulsive song or a simple saying.

When a feeling or an idea gets recorded and the memory soon becomes a demo and that demo might become a full-fledged song.

Then one day hopefully somewhere someone will turn it on and enjoy it. This little piece of you that becomes a part of someone else.

Something shared. Something special.

Something that worked when so many other things didn’t work.

Yeah. That’s the why. In case somebody really needs to know the why.

That’s one of the 2000 reasons why.

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