The Accidental Novelist
Fred Venturini

Post Novella Impotent Impetus: a Wind Tunnel Sort of Sensation Thingy (Forgive the Navel Gazing)

I used to do math. I used to be good at math too. I would never claim an advanced understanding, but I will claim a discovery of deep springs of intuitive talent for the arrangements and rearrangements of quantities by that wizardly mode of incantation governed by the runes of calculation. I had to discover this spring. It’s in my brain somewhere, not always active. When it is, though, boy numbers be hurting, they move around so fast.

I got good at math twice in my life. I can say definitely that a) it was particular times and that b) it was only two times. I know it was particular times because when I sat down the second time to do math I discovered, to my consternation, that I really couldn’t. It had been several years between instances of mathematics, and I had forgotten how to think about it. I kicked my ass about it, and got good at math a second time, just long enough to get out of college.

I concluded two things from the experience. First, I concluded that, regardless of a little natural inclination, I don’t particularly care that I have the ability to lose track of the modes of thought in my mind required to do mathematics. Second, I concluded with absolute surety that repetitive practice designed to hone is as important for mental skills as it is for physical skills. The sensation was unmistakable: it was exactly like never working out for a long time, then attempting the work-out that you had worked up to before and failing miserably at it.

Writing. I care about writing more. The experience with math got me thinking about the value of pointedly exercising my writing muscles. It does me no good to allow my imagination to stagnate; that idea only receives affirmation when I occasionally have experiences like I’m having now. That experience is that I have written a novella in the last three weeks. That isn’t the most exhaustive thing I’ll write in three weeks, maybe, but it’s the most exhaustive thing I’ve written recently. I think I’m always pretty warmed up for the experience because I’m not so exhausted that I feel like packing it in and hibernating for a week or two. Rather, the experience I have now is one of sort of like standing in an intellectual wind-tunnel: there’s this simulation of rushing without any forward progress. My mind continues to race with creative energy, but I’m standing without moving in any particular creative direction. It’s almost more tiring than writing a story.

I keep throwing things into the rushing wind around me. The ideas keep getting blown away from me. Nothing’s dragging me along. It’s all a bit strange. But I need to keep writing or I’ll go a little nuts, thus the increase in blog posts.

So much for the navel gazing. In a bid for the practical, I aim in this little essay to make an informed suggestion and cast a point of inquiry.

The suggestion is, when they say it doesn’t matter what you write just write, what they’re saying is so true. Do that.

The point of inquiry is, how do you deal with this whole post-big-project continuous creative rushing mingled with creative exhaustion thing? I’m still figuring out my best way to do it.


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