Hello MUGsters! As you probably know, one of the many things that M.U.G. can stand for is ‘Mysteriously Unique Genius’. I saw that on our front page and it reminded me of this video from the 2009 Ted conference.
Years ago, Stephen King took a deep breath at the end of The Waste Lands – the third book of the Dark Tower series – to apologize to his readers for cutting the story off at a cliffhanger (which, as it turns out, did not get resolved until the next book was published six years later). “…although you are not obligated to believe me,” he says in the epilogue, “I must nevertheless insist that I was as surprised by the conclusion to this third volume as some of my readers may be.”
Those words sent a thrill through me, because I saw something in a famous best-selling author that I thought only I was experiencing. I’d just written Underdogs (well, a very early draft) and discovered, much to my great surprise, that one of the secondary characters died about a third of the way through the story. This was a great shock to me; I had future plans that involved that character, and that were now going to have to change – or be removed from the story altogether.
But I wasn’t alone! Other writers had the same thing happen! Well, at least Stephen King did, and if he did, then I was neither unique nor screwed up. I shared that experience a couple of times over the years, and other artists have said the same thing happens to them – surprise, shock, even confusion at what comes out of their heads (and hearts, and hands).
Elizabeth Gilbert’s story about Ruth Stone, and the way inspiration strikes her, is hauntingly familiar as well. I am often found sitting in front of my laptop, tearing my hair out (figuratively, of course, since I have very little hair left) over some bit of prose or plot twist. Even something as simple as the way to describe a person’s appearance can leave me stumped for days.
But sometimes – and this happened yesterday, in fact – I am hit with a hammer blow of creative inspiration that bursts out of me like dinner out of a college kid at his first frat party after seven too many drinks. Words flow like the beer from the frat’s keg, flooding page after page, often so fast that when I go back to read it even I have a hard time making sense of it. My genius has entered the room, leaped onto my back like the proverbial monkey, and is thrashing me into a frenzy that can only be quelled by the outpouring of words on the page. (Ok, fine, document file. You know what I mean.)
And when it is gone, when the words are on the page (yes, yes, I know, I did it again), I sit back, panting, exhilarated, joyfully awaiting the next time it happens. In the meantime, I’ll keep pounding away at the keys, making sure I show up and do my part.