“When you’re writing, you’re conjuring. It’s a ritual, and you need to be brave and respectful and sometimes get out of the way of whatever it is that you’re inviting into the room.” ~ Tom Waits
My first thought upon reading this was of some of the books I’ve read that involve summoning demons. Which is the sort of thing that typically you’d only do when you’re staring down a big problem and starting to get desperate, or your the evil mastermind who might be a liiiittle too cocky…
As a writer, I have at times felt I fit both those descriptions. Sometimes even at the same time.
But also typically, if you’re thinking far enough ahead you build plenty of safeguards into your summoning circle and take a healthy step back as soon as you’re done casting. The methods you use are important, because for better or worse they will shape the overall outcome. There often is a great deal of ritual involved, perhaps because in any situation it’s more comforting to stick with something you know and consider tried and tested, rather than taking the risk of totally making things up as you go along.
(How far can I carry this metaphor? This is already farther than I expected to get when I started writing, to be honest.)
You have to be brave. Some things are easy to botch, whether it’s summoning a demon or trying to make what’s on the page as grand and complete as the vision in your head. If you allow yourself to be intimidated, it makes the task that much harder.
You have to be respectful. Granted, the characters in your imagination are less likely to bite your head off than infernal hellspawn, but minding your manners and giving them what they consider their due is probably the simplest way to get them to cooperate.
And sometimes they’re just gonna roar on out of there, and you’ve got to do your best to just get out of the way and let it happen. The most interesting characters are sometimes the most willful ones, and the most demanding to have their own story.
So… yeah. I’m going to go sit at my desk with a cup of tea (still steaming, with milk and honey) and a cat in my lap (trying to keep her off of my keyboard), and do some conjuring.