Thursday, July 1, 2010

The menagerie of the mind

I haven’t blogged in a coon’s age, and while there was a part of me wondering why I wanted to start again—add one more item to the to-do list—there was another chomping at the bit. Life has been a whirl of crazy activity the last couple of years, with a couple of moves, a couple of new jobs, and a lot of asking, “What do we do now?”

I’ve swung from depression to elation, determination to confusion, and every other emotion one can think of along the way. There’s nothing like seeing things falling apart around you and having to hang on for dear life to put you through the emotional wringer. The only two constant mental processes tying all of that time together were best described by my friend Amy Ruttan as visits from the Plot Monkeys and Doubt Weasels.

No matter what else was going on my writing was never far from my mind, but how I felt about it depended on which part of the menagerie was visiting. I LOVE hearing the Plot Monkeys chattering and yammering. They always have interesting snippets of ideas, crazy but somehow viable ideas for new stories. When the Plot Monkeys come to town suddenly you know that, despite what you were thinking the second before, there really are a whole host of stories still waiting to be told. They’re fickle beasts, easily distracted, and you have to be careful they don’t clog your head with so many ideas you spend all your time researching and none writing. But if you can latch on to one idea, hold tight and get the story told, you have something to work with.

Unfortunately, after the Plot Monkeys go scampering off to harass some other writer their distant cousins the Doubt Weasels usually move in. These guys are dour, full of doom and gloom. They’re the equivalent of the friend who goes to the amusement park and spends the entire day predicting when and how the equipment will fail while you’re on the rides, and what you’ll sound like as you fall, screaming, to your death.

Sort of takes the joy out of the day...

If I’m lucky the DWs wait until I’m finished the story before slinking in through the door. Even though hearing them gossip and moan about how slim the chances are any publisher will acquire the “drivel” you’ve subbed is demoralizing, by that time the die is cast. If the weasels arrive while I’m still working on the book, there’s a good chance it won’t get finished until I can evict them again. It’s just impossible to get much done with all their Doomsday predictions whispering in my head.

So, with the help of friends, family, chocolate and a couple glasses of wine, the Doubt Weasels must be vanquished before further work can be done. Unfortunately, sometimes then the Plot Monkeys come charging back in. That’s why my “Unfinished Work” folder is bulging with snippets of ideas and half-done stories, and why I’m so grateful and happy to have three books coming out in the second half of 2010.

Take that, Doubt Weasels!

And, in honour of Canada Day, enjoy this video, filmed right here in my home town!


  1. Don't I know it!! Wonder if they're afraid of garlic?? Or maybe gorillas????