I don’t know about you, but for me, the creative process requires a lengthy visit to “The Zone.” If you’re an artist of any kind, you probably know what I’m talking about, surely sense the obsessive urge, the quiver of excitement at the prospect of exploring undiscovered shores. My creative muse resides there, tantalizing and intoxicating, and she demands my undivided attention.
I love each foray into the Zone—despite its consumption of my life. It’s creative gluttony, stuffing my face with words, gobbling down characters, disgorging pathos. When I dive into the Zone, I’m not myself. I’m immersed in my craft, drowning in a taste of pure manna like an addict. The rest of the world fades into the hazy horizon as the Zone awakens that right brain craving.
As a writer, this is especially true during my first draft when a story’s taking shape. Within the Zone, unfamiliar scenes tap from my fingertips and uncooperative characters demand a voice. A fickle wind pushes my plot, requiring vigilance to stay on course. As an adventurer, I’m on my own, trying to make sense of an untold tale before I return to my ordinary life, take a long overdue shower…wash loads of stinky laundry…vacuum blankets of dog hair…make dinner for a gaunt spouse surviving on snack food.
Fortunately, my visits to the Zone are temporary, and I recognize the pattern well enough now that I can plan ahead. “Okay, everybody,” I announce to the family, “I’m heading into the Zone for a few months. See ya.” My eyes droop and I make a pouty face as if I’m going to miss them, but inside I’m giddy as a new mom on a night out. Party time for me and my laptop!
Here’s a typical conversation when I’ve entered the Zone:
Husband: “Blah blah…dinner…blah blah…oil change…blah blah blah?”—long pause—“I might as well live alone.”
Me: “Hmm, what?”
Sad, but true.
With my outline done for the next tale, I’m ready for another jaunt into the Zone. The Weaver’s Tale (my working title) is pure fantasy about a winter that refuses to end. Does that sound familiar to some of you? By the end of February in Oregon, we should be mowing the lawn, not shoveling snow. It’s March, for goodness sake!
Fortunately for us, the seasons still change. My winter’s tale will unfold with spring’s blooming, grow with the weeds in my summer garden, and come to ripeness in autumn. That’s the plan anyway – to emerge from the Zone when the snow begins to fall. Tomorrow, I dive into Chapter One. I can’t wait!