The Weekly Re-Motivator: Mental Contractions

I love a good metaphor ’round these parts, and the SoCS prompt this week plays right into it.

I’ve likened writing to a lot of things in the past. Hiking through a dense, all-engulfing jungle. Dragging yourself through a brutal desert. Rebuilding a car from its component parts.

But my favorites are the visceral ones, the ones with lots of fluids involved. The messy ones. The human ones. Hacking a malformed creature to bits and building a new monstrosity from the leftover gore. Slicing off redundant flesh, vestigial limbs. Draining the narrative of its thick, murky, purple-prosed blood and refilling it with clear, slippery, quick-flowing prose.

Or giving birth.

See, some writers are like insects or even trees or flowers; dropping eggs every so often or scattering spores and seeds around willy-nilly, giving birth to one narrative after another, writing regularly every day, staying productive even as their everyday lives swirl around them in a tornado of accomplishment and fulfillment.

But some of us are mammals. We can’t procreate all the time; we have to incubate, to grow the thing in utero until it’s fully-formed and ready to spring forth into the world. The work is done internally, gestating in the mind, sprouting limbs in secret, growing lungs safe from the light of day. Over months — sometimes even years — the thing takes shape. It kicks and squirms and twists, banging at the writer’s insides like a blind rhinoceros. It becomes all the writer can think about. It becomes as much a part of the writer as her own heart and brain.

And then — when the time is right (I actually wrote “write” when I meant to write “right”, which tells you how sunk I am in the metaphor) — contractions.

The body begins to reject the mostly-formed critter forcefully, urgently. In the space of a couple of hours, every system that worked to protect the young one and keep it safe reverses gears. The incubation is over: now the thing must come out or one of them may die. And come out it does. Amid screams of torturous pain, the expulsion of blood and a host of other unmentionable fluids, and an unending flurry of pushes which seem unproductive, the thing slowly slithers its way into the light.

There are writers like that. We incubate the ideas in the mind, insulating them from the light of day until they burst forth, uncontrollably and with great vigor, scattering the inkblood and amniotic word fluid across the previously perfect blank page.

And we expel this little miracle onto the table/page, where it flops around, taking its first breaths and spreading its wings (or whatever) for the first time.

And it’s … well, it’s imperfect. But it’s a thing we’ve created, and so in a way, it is perfect. And we’ll spend the coming months if not years nurturing it, feeding it, teaching it to walk and talk and influence the minds of the weak.

I’ve lost track of whether I’m talking about a story or a baby.

What are you? An incubator or a spreader-of-spores, a populator?

(And usually I include a picture, but I just can’t bring myself to post a picture of a mother in childbirth. Having witnessed it firsthand — kind of [my kids were born by Caesarean] — well. I just won’t do that to you.)

This weekly remotivational post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Every weekend, I use Linda G. Hill’s prompt to refocus my efforts and evaluate my process, sometimes with productive results.

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