When a reader opens a book, it can feel like he is quite truly being sucked away from everything that he’s ever known. While his eyes flit through sentences upon sentences of an author’s masterful prose, his mind ventures upon journeys to lands farther away than he could even fathom. Realms where things that he could truly describe as alien actually exist, yet a realm in which exist characters that he can relate to as well. A world that breathes and gasps and shouts and lives in the same way that he does. For the reader, immersion can persist for long stretches of the book, perhaps even all of it!
Yet the author’s experience with the novel…let’s just say that it’s a tidbit more complicated.
Actually, scratch that. The author’s experience with the novel is an ugly, bloody path filled with dozens of migraines and a set of aching fingers.
But it goes without saying that the discrepancies between an author’s experience with
his own work and the experience of the reader with that same work tend to vary in radical extremes. When we’re the readers, we only get to see all the beautiful parts in a book. Those parts that didn’t need to get cut, those parts that were fixed, and those that were fine-tuned to tug at our hearts. But like the spectators to a play, we never get to see the hours of rehearsals that the actors had to go through. We never watch the scriptwriters toil on their desks with crumpled up manuscripts for days on end, nor do we see the administration of the production’s budget that could only just barely make ends meet.
Readers get to see a “self-actualized” version of the text, allowing them to get sucked into the world almost instantly if it is written well. But a novelist gets to see all the flaws in their product pasted right in front of his own eyes, as though all his efforts were for nothing. While the writer shovels through revisions upon revisions, it can feel increasingly impossible to form that connection that a reader might be able to form with your book. Slowly but surely, the divide between your real world self and this imaginary land that you’ve been creating for the past months begins to grow broader and broader. And soon enough, you start feeling like your novel is only a work load you’ve chosen to give yourself.
This, this is what I call the Creative Schism.
That pitch dark valley that threatens to engulf all aspects of our imagination, that hazy veil that obscures the path that leads to your ideas, and that inability to form an emotional connection with this hobby you used to cherish. But even when you realize that it exists, the other side of the valley continues to erode away. That other land that exists within your mind gradually begins to be shrouded in uncertainty and a lack of passion.
This right here is the biggest challenge that writers must face. Who cares about Writer’s Block? What does First Draft Depression have on this? Even the most severe case of Manuscript Separation Anxiety doesn’t hold a candle to this.
This isn’t just a disconnect with your manuscript, this is a disconect with everything inside of your imagination. It’s a war that you wage with yourself. And one that you’re not sure you can even win. It carries none of the frustration that comes with Writer’s Block, none of the worries that come with Manuscript Separation Anxiety, and none of the sorrow that comes with characters not acting the way you wish them to.
The Creative Schism only brings cold indifference in its wake. One that eats at your passions from the very foundations of your imagination and creative process. An indifference that turns your characters into a blank slate, one that leaves your plot barren, and one that could leave severe damage to your craft. But my dearest reader, allow me to share a secret with you.
There is hope.
As bleak and as hazy as that divide may seem, the tools to return to that passionate state you had in the past are in your grasp! All one needs to do is search, and work to find those very habits that plant new seeds of inspiration in your mind. But how do I go about doing this? Where do I start? Do I need to consult anything? I can’t do all of this on my own!
Perhaps these thoughts have already begun to take root within the garden of your mind. Perhaps these have been questions that have been brewing within you ever since you first started writing. Maybe you’ve only been made aware of the Creative Schism just now. I can’t answer all of your questions now, but I can answer one. You are not alone.
The next few posts that follow this one shall all be dedicated to the ongoing war we have with our mind. This endless struggle we have against those that would try to sunder the bonds we’ve struggled to reinforce with the worlds that we create. The time has come to bear arms, the time has come to take action, and the time has come to end this abuse.
As always, this has been the QuestingAuthor. Join me, as we strive to Mend the Schism.