The Work of Writing Five: Ideas

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Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania and Bottom. Edwin Henry Landseer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

(Previous Work of Writing posts.)

I’m not feeling very idea-y today. Some days they come like a cloud of fireflies in early summer, too many to catch, not that you should catch fireflies because it’s cruel even though every child does it.

So much for that metaphor.

Some days, like today, you get cold winter air, empty of anything, biting, foreboding. Well, maybe not foreboding, but not exactly encouraging.

Well guess what? I bet you know what’s coming, hypothetical reader. Yup. You got it.

You still have to sit down and face the cursor. Writing isn’t about the inspiration, about the romantic idea of art pouring forth from your fingers like a tide of genius or even a series of tortured similes and metaphors, it’s about the work.

The work.

Of course we all have those glorious moments where we sit down, thought fully formed inside head, and sculpt it on the page, but come on, we all know that’s the drug. That’s the thing that keeps us coming back to the keyboard.

That’s the bubble.

The bubble doesn’t always let us in.The bubble doesn’t always have a shiny fairy door covered in tiny roses (note: that may constitute an idea). The bubble doesn’t always form.

You know what’s always there?

Your preferred tools for writing. So get you big mug of hot liquid of preference (yesterday’s readers, you get it) and let’s go. No mystical inspiration required.

For more on my thoughts about Charlottesville and rising bigotry, please read An Open Letter to My Friends of Color.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Peruse Montraps Publishing.

 

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Monday Morning Magpies

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Rubens Peale [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Rubens Peale [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve got a little case of the Monday Morning Magpies. Well, maybe not a little one. Maybe kind of a big one.

What are those, you say, hypothetical reader? They sound like a minor-league baseball team, or maybe an indoor soccer league?

Why thank you for thinking I’d be so sporty, hypothetical reader! You always know the right thing to say. But no, not that at all.

My eyes are falling on everything and anything shiny. Oh look! An email! Oh look! A tweet! Oh look! Another tweet! That’s more tweets!

You get the idea.

I meant to use my go-to grounding technique, the humble to-do list, but something grabbed my attention before I grabbed the pad and pen. I’m pretty sure it was coffee, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

Didn’t quite catch that, hypothetical reader? Why not do it now? Because right now I’m blogging. See? The blogging? Of the blog?

In the genius words of a genius writer, so it goes.

Often this kind of distractibility precedes a spate of creativity. I think it’s my brain’s way of preparing to catch the ideas as they scatter, darting in all directions to collect them like some kind of video game. It’s a signal to get the net ready, because when they go, they go.

It’s times like these that my mind forges strange connections, stockpiles “what ifs.” That harvest moon isn’t only for crops.

I think the writing season has begun.

In or near Chicago in October? Come see “Me Inside Me Presents: Witch, Please,” on October 1, 8, 22 and 29 at Donny’s Skybox Theater at 7 pm. Tickets available at SecondCity.com.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

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An Excuse to Cozy

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So yesterday I shared my adventures in trying to cancel my dental insurance. And did I manage to do it? Drum roll please…

Maybe.

Yep. That’s the best I can do. Maybe. It was a convoluted process, and I was told a rep might contact me to discuss my “situation” — I have no idea what that means, despite the very nice agent explaining it to me — but it should be cancelled. I think. So yay?!?

Meanwhile, today is very gray, and we’ve been promised a huge winter storm of ice and snow and rain and blizzards and pestilence and demons and black holes and end-of-the-world proximity. As of yet I haven’t seen a single drop of anything, from liquid water to frozen or anywhere in between, but the wind is howling and the waves explosive and huge.

Oh wait.

I take that back. There is a veil of silvery-white descending. Batten those hatches.

And I have to tell you, right now I have ideas a-brewing, as the light gets cozier inside and it gets ickier outside. Many ideas that need to be cataloged and saved before they dissolve away.

This is the part that makes writing fun, exciting, enticing. The siren call of fresh ideas, untested, new places where you can vanish while building the world around you.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

How Do I Spring Clean My Brain?

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Today I am trying to draw from my word reserves, but it seems as though I only have a tangle in my head. Incomplete sentences; incomplete thoughts.

There they are, scattered, fragments, bits, jumbles of parts that don’t feel as though they go together. I need a giant sifter, something that can help sort out the dust that seems to cover everything up there.

My brain needs a spring cleaning.

I wonder how you do that for a brain. It’s not as though you can haul out the vacuum cleaner and get at it through an ear. In fact, I would recommend very strongly against trying this method.

They don’t make brain Swiffers. There is no spray, polish or microfiber that can get in there and clean out all of the crumbs. So what can you do?

There’s meditation, of course, and that’s probably why it was invented, to give the mind a good deep cleaning. And I could give it a shot, only I suspect that within about three minutes, I’ll be deep sleeping instead of deep cleaning.

And that’s the other thing that’s supposed to do it: sleeping. Dreams. They’re supposed to help cleanse the brain of all that unnecessary clutter. Only my dreams themselves have been cluttered lately, brimming with activity, packed with people I’ve never met, crowded with stuff.

I think I need a dream rummage sale.

I wonder how you go about organizing one of those. I mean how do you price things when money in dreams can easily come in units of dragons? How many dragons do I need?

See what I mean about the crowded brain?

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

Weathering the Idea Monsoon

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We’ve all been to the writing desert, haven’t we? That vast, empty place where there isn’t an idea for miles in any direction, where it feels as though inspiration will never come again. That place isn’t fun.

But what about when the idea monsoon season starts? It sounds like an embarrassment of riches, right? From nothing to a flood of ideas rushing through your head.

Except that can be tricky. I’ve written about how you can’t rely on inspiration as a writer, but it does strike, and when it does, you should grab your surfboard and ride the wave. Only sometimes, the wave breaks off into a hundred different directions.

Yes, I realize I’ve taken that metaphor as far it will take me. Much like the wave of inspiration.

Often when we feel that spark, it’s not just a single spark. Your brain is in creativity mode, and it is firing on all cylinders. The hard part is picking one thing on which to focus while there are shiny new twinklies all around you.

Write them down. The idea will wait for you if you put it down on paper or note it on your computer. Give yourself as much detail as you have, and make sure it’s there for you when you can move on to it.

If I gave in every time a new project beckoned, I’d never finish any. In fact, it’s almost as though it’s a defense mechanism, a distraction when I’m getting close to the end.

Once in a while, I let the siren song call me away, especially when it’s already feeling solid to me, whole. When it crosses the boundary of simple inspiration to something more concrete. But otherwise I try to put that energy into what needs finishing, and I save my flood waters for an utterly unrainy day.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

Sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 

Ideas Are the Yeast of Writing

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I keep a collection of my ideas on my computer. It seems that, no matter what on this planet I have to worry me, the risk of running out of concepts for fiction isn’t among my issues.

It’s not just my computer. It’s notepads and notebooks, my phone, anything that’s handy when the inspiration strikes. I scribble a line, or two lines, and there it is to be used later. Once in a while, when I’m stuck, I browse through to see if I can marry two concepts together; there have been times when I realized, with a bang, that disparate things were meant to go together all the time.

There’s probably not enough time on earth for me to see all of those ideas through to fruition. They’re not all whole, anyway. Some are fragments, details, bits of character, crumbs of situations.

Ideas are not the problem. It would be great if that was all that was needed, a quick concept, and the whole thing rises like bread dough in a warm oven. Wipe your hands on your apron, and it’s fresh slices in a few hours.

Of course, bread doesn’t work that way, it takes more than just yeast. Writing doesn’t work that way, either. Thinking of something, that’s easy. It’s building it out of nothing more than letters, that’s where it gets tricky.

Need a little mystery in your life? Check out  Her Cousin Much Removed, or sign up for my spamless newsletter. And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!