By Serdar Yegulalp on 2022-04-15 08:00:00-04:00 No comments

Sorry for the silence on this end -- Shunga-Satori has been going full steam; tax season; work stuff. But I did want to pop back in with a great prompt my friend Steve waved under my nose: "Are you 'one' writer or 'many' writers?"

This idea (as Steve explained) came to him from a realization that what we think of as a sense of self is really multiple mindstreams operating at different speeds. We see "ourselves", but there's also a "seer", and a "judger of the self that uses the seer", and so on. We're large, we contain multitudes. Our creative/writerly selves also seem the same way, on closer and more rigorous inspection: that there isn't any one voice that speaks, but a whole revolving chorus of them. Sometimes they sing; sometimes they try to shout each other down. I imagine all of us here know the feeling of our Inner Editor getting out the red pencil before the Inner Writer has even finished the sentence.

I don't think the right thing to do with this kind of insight is to find the "good" voices and use them to drown out the "bad" ones. That doesn't work with the rest of our psychology anyway; why would it be any better here? If you have an inner editor, you give the editor the time and place it needs to be an editor, and that tends to help shut it up until the next time it needs to come out of the box. The more you can say "That's the editor speaking," the easier it is to let the actual writer voice speak.

Other, more granular aspects of this also come to mind. Sometimes I find myself writing something where the part of me that is most engaged with the scene is the part that wants to describe everything from a highly internalized perspective, rather than the part that knows that the story needs to move forward. Once I got to realizing that I had such a voice that needed to speak, and to be recognized as such, it got easier to give that particular voice the time and space it needed to do its thing and get out of the way. Eventually, I got to the point where I could open the door to the room where it was, let it out to play for a little bit, and then trick it into wandering back into the room and close the door behind it.

I know full well I am not any one voice on the inside, but a whole chorus of them. The part of me that likes to write stylized, slam-bang action is always going to be at odds with the part of me that wants to stop time and dive all the way into a single thought and come out the other side. Some of those things don't belong in the same sentence or paragraph; that's stylistic whiplash of a kind that can leave the reader in a neck brace. But there's nothing that says with a little care and attention they can't be permitted to share the same work overall.

Shunga-Satori has less room in it overall for, say, wild stylized action of the type that Unmortal had. The book I'm tentatively cooking next, Charisma, is more suited to such things. But all of them had room for introspection, and they all needed it. I just had to learn to let the voices take their turns and not shout over each other. And before that, I had to hear each of 'em in turn and put names to them.

Tags: creativity psychology writers writing