I’m a geek for the artistic process, and for artists. I love reading biographies, I devour How-To’s and Behind-The-Scenes volumes. As much as I love the act of creation, I also love the psychological, social and thought processes that go into that act.
So this year I’m going running a new series of blog posts: welcome to Fetish Friday.
Now, before you get all sweaty in the pants area, let’s be clear: I’m going back to an older definition of the word fetish, and asking artists to show us something that helps them with the act of creation, some part of their surroundings– physical or mental– that eases the path into the creative state, whether it be a location, a piece of music, person, picture, a doohickey, whatnot, curio or ornament without the creative process would be a whole lot more difficult.
Let me give you an example:
This, here, is my shower. If you’ve read any of my fiction, anything longer than a flash piece at any rate, that story has driven me to this shower at least once.
The vast majority of my fiction is unplanned. I start with an image, a character, a setting— something minor and singular– and unwind from there, moving from problem point to problem point until everything builds to a giant tangle of problems, and then… resolution, climax, denouement, and fade. Which is fine…… until I write myself to a problem I can’t solve. If I can’t solve it, then neither can my characters.
Which is when I retreat to the shower. Maybe it’s because I’m to cheap to shell out for a proper isolation tank, but once the screen is between me and the word, and I’m alone with the steady thrum of water battering my head and shoulders, and running down my face in such a wave that I can’t even sense the walls around me, that’s when my mind realises nobody’s watching, slips its leash, and goes for a right old wander. And that’s usually when I hit upon the solution that nobody was looking for.
Fiction is like football: it’s all about creating angles, and finding gaps that nobody was expecting. When I’m isolated from every possible distraction, when my body temperature is plummeting below the ambient heat (or rising through the frost layer, in the tracky-dacks months), and when I’m alone in my cocoon of calming water, that’s when the angles open up. When I’m in need of a breakthrough, when I’ve written myself into a cul-de-sac and can’t find the gaps in the surrounding walls, I retreat to the shower.
Some stories I can measure by the number of shower I have to take…
So there’s my fetish revealed, and that’s what’s happening across the course of the year. In coming weeks you’ll hear from a range of creative artists as they discuss their own particular creative fetishes. If you’re a creative artist, and you fancy joining in and letting us know about that special item, object, location or cosmic state of being at the heart of your creative process, well, there’s always room for another lunatic in the asylum: email me and make your most excited Horshack noise.