“How’s work going?” my friend asks. “How’s the writing today?”
“Eh,” I say. “You know how it is. Easy come, easy go.”
“Lemme guess,” they say, “today’s easy go?”
I laugh. “Something like that.”
They volunteer to rubber duck for me. I walk them through my workflow. What I’ve gotten accomplished, what I have for deadlines that are looming. “I’m sitting here at the moment hoping a new idea comes and bites me in the face,” I admit.
They offer comforting emojis. It’s clear to me that they don’t know what to say.
I get it. I don’t know what to say either — that’s why I can’t write.
And then it hits me — I’m sitting here at the moment hoping a new idea comes and bites me in the face.
“It’s a shame that not all ideas are facehuggers,” I joke.
For the uninitiated, facehuggers are a phenomenon from the Alien universe. Look, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an Alien superfan. Sci fi horror isn’t my sweet spot or anything (no offense if it’s yours — I’m bad with jump scares in real life, so I don’t typically seek them out on the big screen), so I might get some of this explanation wrong. But my lay understanding is that facehuggers are an early stage in the life cycle of this sci fi alien, the one after the egg the thing hatches from.
The facehugger does what the name suggests. It literally attaches itself to your face and implants something called a chestburster in your body through your mouth.
Ew, ew, ew, ew…. right?
This chestburster also does exactly what it says and literally bursts the host’s chest open and gives birth to the Xenomorph, killing the host in the process.
Oh boy. Um… yeah, so that’s horrific. (But hey, that’s expected from horror, right?)
Anyway, I was thinking about facehuggers in particular today and ruing the fact that you can’t wait on inspiration. A lot of times you have to work without it.
Before I did creative work full time, I thought of art as something that just magically happened to you. An idea came to you — boom out of nowhere — like a facehugger! And then you flew through the process of creation automatically.
To me, creative work was unpredictable and sporadic — and involuntary.
But when I started working full time as a writer and had deadlines — and had to do things like pitch ideas, create outlines, have them greenlit by an editor, and THEN get to work… well, I couldn’t rely on facehuggers anymore.
But maybe it’s for the best at the end of the day. Because there’s a toll to be paid when you’re at the mercy of automatic involuntary processes — when writer’s block seems like an insurmountable problem.
On one hand, it’s a shame that not all ideas are facehuggers. But on the other hand, there’s a price to be paid when they are. After all, chestbursters aren’t exactly a picnic either.