Monday, June 29, 2009

The Blues...

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.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I can see what you're saying, but I think of writing as an escape. I'm even more likely to do it when I'm feeling blue.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Chester Campbell said...

I'm with you, Ben. I enjoy listening to the blues, but I'm not a blues type of guy. I'm more apt to laugh when I should be blue. I don't have to experience everything I write about. So far I haven't murdered anybody (that I know of). I haven't even been shot or shot at. But I have a vivid imagination. I can paint my imagination blue if necessary.

Jean Henry Mead said...

When I'm feeling blue I want to crawl under the covers and sleep. Then I attack my depression by giving the problem to one of my characters and working it out in a humorous way. It's very carthatic and I'm thankfully not "blue" very often. I like Mozart when I'm writing and Pavorotti really lifts my spirits as well.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Cathartic, that is. Someday I'll learn how to spell, or maybe it's this thin mountain air. :)

Mark W. Danielson said...

Can't say I'm part of the Blue Man Group, either. If I'm not inspired, I'd rather keep my fingers away from the keyboard.

Anonymous said...

Interesting views of the blues. I'm the original Little Miss Sunshine, although I used to have occasional spells of what a friend called "the black Irish depression." When I lived in Louisiana, people there called it "the red a-s."

Despite my hopelessly upbeat disposition, when it comes to music I have always loved the blues.

However, I can't write to any kind of music. My best background noise for writing is a golf tournament on TV. Don't know why, it just is.

Once my writing is finished I can log onto You Tube and listen to music for 3 hours without stopping.

Different strokes --

Pat Browning