What’s the deal? A guy who writes horror, fantasy and other weird stuff thinking that creativity is a curse? To be honest—no, not the majority of the time. My brain is almost always swirling with new plots, unique characters, exotic settings and such, and for the most part I’m pleased about it. I have so many stories inside of me that I couldn’t possibly tell all of them in this lifetime. Hey, I’d better build up my karma points now so that I can have another lifetime to get ’em all out. That won’t happen if I come back as a fruit fly or a kangaroo rat or something. No, I love having the gift of creativity.
Yeah, I’m not kidding. I dream about this stuff. All of the time. During my first writing career, when I pounded out over a dozen sword & sorcery and sword & planet novels, the dreams would come just about every night. I could literally write a novel while asleep; just had to get up the next morning and scribble down a quick summary of what I dreamt, then flesh out the scenes all the rest of that day. In a way it felt like psychic plagiarizing—but hey, you can’t plagiarize yourself, can you? Anyway, I thought it was great.
But as with just about everything, there came a down side.
Consider the kind of stuff I wrote—the stuff I’m still writing. Mass murderers, giant worms, barbarians engaged in bloodbaths, demons from Native American myth, ghosts, serial killers, nightmarish monsters from hellish underworlds, mutated beings galore, swamp creatures, all manner of bugs, tribes of hairy, foul-breathed, disgusting primitives…
Okay, I think you got the point. With stuff like that floating around in your brain all day, how can it NOT stick in your subconscious and ultimately pay you a visit during REM time?
It can wear on one’s spouse, too. This past week alone my wife had to pull me out of two rather nasty nightmares, and almost a third. In the first, these giant black worms began oozing out of the ceiling and twisting their way down toward me—a “HOLY CRAP!” moment if there ever was one. Last month I had written about huge slimy things like that crawling up from the pits of Esh in my sword & sorcery novel, The Sons of Ornon. Thanks for the visit, guys.
The second one came last week, a day or so after I’d revised a scene in my old sword & planet story, The Master of Boranga. There are two moons over this world, and as they hurtle through the heavens on a particular night, their trajectories are such that they appear to touch—which sends a bunch of whackos called the Holy Ones into a sacrificial frenzy, and a whole bunch of victims on altars become bloody toast. So in my nightmare my wife and I are inside a room in a tall building, and one moon starts hurtling through the sky but suddenly falls and causes a sort of nuclear explosion not too far away, and I tell my wife to look, and she runs to the window and leaps out. “HOLY CRAP!” She has since demanded that I leave her out of my nightmares.
The third one, actually, never happened. Just as I started moaning or whatever my wife either kneed me in the butt or smacked me upside the head (she won’t admit to either), but it must’ve worked, because I rolled over and slept peacefully.
I had taken a long hiatus from writing, and the dreams/nightmares/visions had abated, but they never did go away. Now that I’m totally immersed in rewriting my old books and creating new stories, I figure that they’re back with a vengeance. But you know, if this is the curse of creativity, it is a price I’m gladly willing to pay. Three cheers for the right brain!
If you’re a creative right-brainer—writer or otherwise—maybe your creativity has affected other areas of your life in interesting ways. If so, I’d love to hear your stories.
A few other things: I’m off to Virginia for the Hunt Country Writers’ Retreat this coming weekend. Right-brainers (and some left-brainers) galore! Should be fun. Right after I return I’ll be finishing up my (freaking extensive) revisions on The Master of Boranga, so it should be presentable sometime in May.