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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Flaming Inspiration-A Writer's Tool

Burn idea, Burn. I mean that in a good way.

Recently, I was gabbing about writing. Tossing around ideas, trying to figure out how one comes to full fruition. Novel form, specifically, perplexes me. Maybe it's the innumerable amount of potential ingredients one can cast into a single recipe? Maybe it's the vast number of untapped possibilities lingering just out of reach? Whatever the case, the sweet feat of crafting a single story horrifies me.

Whose perspective do I tell it from? Why that person's? How much should the storyteller or author distance herself from the activity and exploration of the narrative? And what the heck is tone? These are questions that boggle my mind, even when I sleep.

I wish I could pretend that the longer I sit still, the more brilliant I naturally become and then all things of man, mind, and spirit magically reveal themselves to me. Alas, I am not a fairy with a magical wand, nor do I share pedigree with the impressive unicorn gene pool. I don't walk with ancient Greek gods when I slumber. Nor am I privileged to have secret conversations in my dreams with any other non-human entity who could perhaps take pity on me and provide me with helpful answers.

Without all these fancy mechanisms at my disposal, you may wonder how I ever come to any conclusions about anything. Enter, my fireplace. I love a good fire. Love everything about it. The way one log burns vigorously, ferociously like it's attacking a long-standing, family feud dragon. While another one flickers its embers so meekly that I'm convinced it's decided to burn itself in itty-bitty sections just to poke fun at the audaciousness of its outlandish counterpart?

Most ideas that I mine for intricate story are like the latter. Or worse. They sit center-fireplace failing to catch fire, mocking my initial moment of inspiration. Year after year passes and that tarnished, unlit, yet burnt beyond recognition kernel of truth just sits there. And when the log finally catches and embers start agreeably cracking, I'm left with only more questions. Was that the ember, the idea, I was born to contemplate and see through to full fruition?


One story in particular comes to mind. I've been working on it, technically, since spring 2002. I say, technically, because as much as I love the characters, two young sisters, they aggravate me to no end. I swear I have at least a few gray hairs milling about my head because of them. Their unwillingness to fully show themselves. Let me into their world. See why they run and hide, the way they say they must. What's that even mean? You either hide or you show yourself.

I've decided this...an idea remains indefinitely untapped and untouchable until it's ready to share its brilliance. Until its author is willing to take the time to properly mine it for the gold that it is. I've been pecking away at the core ingredients in my sisters' novel for over ten years. You'd think those characters would trust me by now. But no! They've got ideas of their own that they insist I listen to. Preferably, that I include in my book.
Talk about cheeky!

I've also decided this...ideas are egomaniacs. They want your full attention and accept nothing less. They catch fire only when they feel confident that you are willing to fully vet them for emotional, psychological and physical credibility and connectivity. Connectivity because ideas are really little pieces of potential that want their chance to meet their destiny just like their author.

So, it's back to the fireplace, I go. May the logs I light, rise up against me in giant flames and infuse my imagination with spicy, revealing revelations.  And may I instinctively know how to identify the righteous ideas and carry them onto paper.

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