by Ben Small
Do you write when you're blue?
I can't do it. No focus, only shades of blue. Feel the pain, they say, express it, pull it onto your page from deep within your soul. Much like you'd use the old laundry crank dryer, me thinks. Squeeze those emotions out; crank, crank, crank that handle. Reload, take a breather. When you're ready, squeeze-crank that color through once more.
Taste the salt yet?
Expression is soothing, you're told, a purging of demons... cathartic... a mental yoga.
Well, hooey. The last thing I want when I'm blue is to vomit my misery onto a bloated printed page. Embarrassed, I guess. Macho-not. I'm a Mr. Fix-it guy, a closed room problem solver according to Grays' Mars and Venus theories. I think John Gray was biased: He should have had a female co-writer. He's probably afraid of his wife.
Back to my Blues... No, I can't write when I'm blue. If you're reading this, you already know that.
Some writers play the Blues for mood, and maybe that's a pathway to your characters' inner motives. I go for classical, as I drift into a deeper consciousness when I'm enraptured by the intricacy, depth and emotion of a complex composition and an able conductor. Or maybe some opera. Pavarotti is my Go-To-Guy.
But most writers probe their memories, mine them, and then hurry to put words to paper, so eager are they to exorcise these demons once again, maybe back to Lake Averno this time.
Burn, baby, burn.
Or they cheat and buy a newspaper. Jump into somebody else's pain. [Yes, dear, I know that's not cheating. Charter rule: Hedge your bets, babe. What if their newspaper's better than mine? Or what if they've got a Michael-Jackson pain angle on a character? Or what if Rev. Al and Jesse get involved? Dangerous ground here, competitive. Leave room to maneuver.]
Other writers wallow in their pain. Paint and layer it, they say. Apply it like Coppertone: thick and often. Tears slip onto their keyboards: bubbling, rolling, streaming, all to a fingertap beat.
Okay, so I can't get that deep. So what? I can write blue... occasionally... well... maybe when nobody's looking. But when I do it, I do it in a marathon session. Get that scene done. Playback is a bitch.
So, yes, the Blues play important roles in our writing. Our characters must live, and if they live, they get the Blues. Count on it.
So how do you touch the Blues?
Me, I don't write. Not when I'm blue...
We don't really remember pain, you know...
We live it.