I believe that most writers have an endless fountain of creativity. For them, ideas spring to mind and continue into their work without any effort. I imagine them sitting atop an almost unstoppable flow of well thought-out arguments, witty observations, and amazing fiction that covers a wide range of topics.
That’s not me.
My creativity oozes out like molasses. Or maybe like the goo left behind a snail when it traverses the lawn. It’s pretty useful stuff but there isn’t a whole lot of it. In fact, my creativity oozes so slowly that if I divert the flow even a little then I’ll never get anywhere. And then the pimply kid with a salt shaker will find me.
That’s kind of why there hasn’t been a whole lot on this blog lately–I’ve been diverting my ooze. Yeah, that analogy went to the bad place. Anyway…
Before I started writing After Action I unconsciously funneled my creativity into cooking. I’d research meals I wanted to make, assemble the ingredients, and then make a production out of dinner. Or even better, I’d reverse engineer a meal I’d had out at a restaurant and see if I could duplicate it without a recipe. Good fun. Then I started writing and suddenly our meals changed. Lena didn’t mention anything but I certainly wasn’t rolling out any culinary masterpieces. In fact, I started reverting to one of my mother-in-law’s go-to dishes, “Chicken crap.” I don’t think there was ever a recipe for it as it consisted of chicken and whatever veggies and sauce/rice/pasta was available. It was healthy and quick to throw together and required no thought. That was good because all my thoughts were tied up trying to write and edit my book. There was simply nothing left over.
After the book was finished I did get back into cooking a little, although not with the same intensity as before. I’d kind of moved on from my pipe dream of becoming the next (fill in your favorite celebrity chef here) and my creativity remained focused on writing. But I wasn’t really working on any particular writing project so I still muddled around in the kitchen. Lobster Mac-n-Cheese was a favorite (smoked gouda melted on chopped lobster tails, pasta, and chorizo sausage) and a few other creations kept starvation at bay.
Now I’m writing again and it’s tuna fish out of the can. Lena’s out of town so I really only have to feed the kids and Kitty–lucky for me the dog is the pickiest eater of the bunch. I plan dinner approximately four minutes before I intend to have it on the kids’ plates and they have been enjoying hotdogs, pasta and broccoli pretty regularly. Sometimes I muster the energy to make them a pizza but it’s pretty uninspired.
But I am writing again, which is the point of this post. I’m working on another non-fiction book focusing on the challenges facing returning veterans. Where After Action was very narrowly focused on my experiences, this second book will address issues common to veterans and warriors throughout history and will offer concrete suggestions for how to move forward in life after combat.
We, as a nation, are very good at preparing our warriors to fight. We suck at preparing them for life afterward. The book I am working on now is designed to fill that gap and provide some guidance for current and future veterans in a manner that doesn’t imply they are somehow weak for needing it. This guidance used to be part of the cultural make-up of warriors and was a useful tool that helped them overcome the challenges of coming home. For some reason that guidance never made it into our culture and our veterans have been suffering because of it.
So, for the immediate future my creative ooze will be focused on that project. I’ll still post blogs when I have to take a break from the book, but for the time being they will be a secondary effort.
And we’ll probably start ordering out for dinner a bit more often. Canned tuna only goes so far.