Greetings, readers. Today I’m going to take you down the tunnel of a thought experiment that applies to all writers, even those folks over in contemporary fiction who remain incredibly sane and outstandingly plain.
There are pages published and digitalized on the idea of a creative hunger, of the itch to write when you’ve gone too long without it. You have to interact with the real world and go people watching and cultivate your mind’s garden, etc., all that good stuff. But how do you satisfy the hunger for the weird, the strange, the supernatural when your life does not discreetly have those elements in it?
A writer takes a new job, packing their schedule from morning to late afternoon of sitting at a desk in an office, surrounded by paperwork and paperclips and paper airplanes he imagines throwing to their boss’ office. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy. It is steady, secure, mundane work, that has them swinging between an optimistic Mad (Wo)man and the drones from Office Space.
Why did the writer take this job? And to expand the question, why do we inject our lives with not just the ordinary, but the mundane?
Is it because we need money to eat and keep the lights on and for gas? God, no. The writer does this– we do this– because we hunger. Let us go further and say the writer doesn’t have writer’s block. S/he is perfectly content with the words they are able to hammer out when they get home, and their creative output before taking the job was satisfactory.
The short, easy answer is to say that Stephen King was struck when he was out walking. Chaos and destruction did not find him at home as it did to Will Ferrell’s character in Stranger Than Fiction (highly recommended). He was out in the world, doing that whole ‘living’ thing. It was his regular exercise. But that’s the easy answer, so I’ll go into detail.
You’ll never be struck by anything- inspiration, the solution to that latest itch, a minivian– if you aren’t out there. But the writer sits at a desk and works all day because s/he knows of the hunger. The hunger will find them easily if s/he starts walking and living and people watching, things s/he (maybe) actually wants to do.
But to be a prisoner of the paycheck, to be a drone of the office where you are only partially permitted your mind? That is what the hunger truly is. Not fresh air or social interactions or the “weekend” drink- that’s what the hunger needs. What the hunger is, is that creative energy you find in dark places, when all other lights go out. (Yes I just hammered a Pirates of the Caribbean paraphrasing with a LOTR quote; I do not apologize).
The creative hunger is a muscle that develops when your body and mind are doing all those uncreative thing. It’s not just the spark that makes you want to carry a notebook everywhere, that’s not so spectacular. This hunger is something that must be satisfied, a void that must be filled. But that void needs to be knotted up with nowhere to go, with nothing to do but grow.
For some people, finding that hunger is going to be as simple as having a full-time job and being, always, too exhausted to write, at which point starvation will call upon them and they will, as every expert advisor gives, Make time to write. For others, the hunger bleeds into you and becomes such a part of you that even as that office drone, you are a writer.
Ultimately, and the reason I write this article, I call your attention to the hunger because it’s the writer part of you, no matter your genre, that will find you if you let it, if you stop looking for it and let it fester and gnaw and starve, until that day you master it, learn to feed it, and it becomes all that you are.