Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mulling

Working Stiffs welcomes guest blogger Simon Wood today. Appropriately, one of his books is titled WORKING STIFFS.

MULLING

by Simon Wood

"What are you doing?"

"Something."

"Well, it doesn't look like something."

I had a lot of conversations like this in school with teachers that usually led to one of those "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" kind of lectures. Sadly, my footwear never came with "bootstraps," so needless to say my school years weren't my best. Daydreaming was an issue that I didn't shift until I went to college. Now the daydreaming is back--in career form (of sorts). Daydreaming is even tax deductible. You just can't daydream without a bag of Ruffles in your hand.

Now that one book is in the bag and I'm embarking on the next, I'm in that daydreaming phase, where I'm piecing ideas, themes, scenes and other stuff together before I start outlining.

Normally, when Julie comes home at night, I'm banging away at the keyboard and she knows her little man has been hard at it since 9 a.m. At the moment, when she comes home, I'm stretched out in front of the TV with a cat or two on my chest.

"What have you been up to today?"

"Working."

"It doesn't look like you're working. It looks like you're vegging out."

"I'm being conceptual. I'm forming a story, wrapping my head around the idea. You know me, measure twice, cut once."

"So it's been a DVD day."

"No, it hasn't." I sit up and a kitten slithers off my chest. "I have been working. I'm mulling things through is all."

"Simon, what's that pile of Dr. Who DVDs sitting on the floor?"

"They help me mentally cleanse my palate."

"And this empty Ruffles bag?" she says, picking it up.

"Brain food." I snatch the bag from Julie and aim a sleepy kitten at her. "Julie, you have no idea about the creative process. I am mulling. Mulling is an important part of the writing process. Now move, I can't see the TV."

Julie's an angel, but she can be mean sometimes--don't you think?

The problem is that we live in a quantifiable world. We need results. Tactile ones at that. When I'm in the throes of a book and Julie asks, "How much have you done?" I can answer, "Twelve pages," or "Three thousand words" or "Two chapters." These are things the world and Julie can hang their hats on. Me included. I like quantifiable. There's traction. Forward motion. Progress. Industry. A paycheck.

Mulling doesn't inspire the same response. Mulling is intangible--like air. It's there, but you can't see it. But just try and go through a day without it, and you (and I'm looking at you, my old teachers and Julie) will be begging me for some of that intangible stuff. Yeah, too bloody right you will.

So I'm mulling and I'm going to take my time with it. There's no point in going off half-mulled. That would be ridiculous.

I think I've explained myself sufficiently. Now where did I put my Ruffles and those kittens?

Yours in front of the TV,
Simon Wood

Simon Wood is an ex-racecar driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional private investigator. He shares his world with his American wife, Julie. Their lives are dominated by a longhaired dachshund and five cats. He's had over 150 stories and articles published. His short fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines anthologies, such as Seattle Noir, Thriller 2 and Woman’s World. He's a frequent contributor to Writer's Digest. He's the Anthony Award winning author of Working Stiffs, Accidents Waiting to Happen, Paying the Piper and We All Fall Down. As Simon Janus, he's the author of The Scrubs and the forthcoming, Road Rash. His next thriller, Disgruntled, will be out next April. Curious people can learn more at www.simonwood.net.

4 comments:

Joyce said...

Welcome, Simon!

My mulling usually entails cleaning something--bathroom, kitchen, laundry--which makes hubby happy.

I just bought a new state of the art breadmaker (the old one croaked), so now some of my mulling includes searching for new recipes. There's nothing like the aroma of bread baking to give me inspiration.

Walt said...

Obviously, like good wine, good writers have to be mulled. Rather puts one in mind of Lord Nelson.

PatRemick said...

Mulling...
Hmmm.... Simon's post explains a lot about my husband... and I guess, my own creative process.
Yeah, that's it. I'm mulling when I'm doing all those other things that are so much easier than putting my butt in the chair to work on my novel. Truly, I am.
And the next time someone asks me how the writing's going (why did I tell ANYONE I was writing a book?), I'm just going to say I'm still in the "mulling" process.
Thanks, Simon, you just made my day...

Simon Wood said...

I must admit I do the laundry or iron when I'm stuck on a particular scene on something, but I mull for the whole thing... :-)