Friday, 18 June 2010

And Then it Hit Me...

In my first blog, I wrote about the catalyst—a beginning sentence and an ending sentence—so generously offered by a dear writer friend that jump-started one of my WIP’s. And I loved reading everyone’s comments as to where their own seeds of inspiration originated.

Okay. That was a spark that ignited the beginning of a novel. But today, I want to go a step further to hear what sort of kick in the old keester gets YOU out of…oh, no, I almost said the WORD that I hate…writer’s block. Cringe. There. I said it. To me, it is imagination constipation. Now that doesn’t sound quite as dignified as writer’s block, does it? Not pretty, eh? Well, it indeed is NOT pretty!

I’ll start off with my most recent light-bulb incident with a current WIP. I needed a scene. A setting to plunk my characters into. That’s all. How hard could that possibly be? Apparently VERY hard, because for several days, my poor hero and heroine were stuck in an awful freeze frame, waiting for me to put them somewhere, and I couldn’t do it. I could only apologize to them as I left them suspended in some sort of awful character purgatory—not really in my head, but not in written word, either.

I stopped thinking about it and walked away from the computer. Damn writing. I’m going to lie on the couch. I’m going to watch life go by out the patio window, and to hell with my characters. If they want out of their limbo, then let THEM figure out a setting. Hey, you guys, wake me when you decide where you want to be.

Well, here’s the beautiful part. I stared out the window, mesmerized by the sunlight on a tall magnolia tree which stands to the right of my patio. The waxy leaves literally glistened in the evening light. For some reason, my mind wandered to a vision of a tree-house. I don’t know why, but it did. Picturing myself hidden among the big, leafy branches of a tree brought a relaxed, kid-happy smile to me.

Then I spotted something curling up through the balcony railing. Ah. Smoke. The neighbor below me had stepped out onto his patio to smoke. I can’t tell you how or why, but suddenly, my scene visualized. Clear as a bell, as if I were standing in the midst of the setting with the characters. I got chills. Lovely chills. I had my scene.

How? What WAS the scene? From that lazy cerebral wandering, I imagined my heroine hiding up in a tree house, getting away from problems in her home. And…oh, this is the part I love. The hero was standing against the tree trunk, smoking, completely oblivious to her there above him. His smoke, like my neighbor’s, snaked up to her as she watched him through the shimmering green leaves of an old oak tree.

I’m telling you, inspiration such as that, which springs from a totally relaxed mind, a mind that isn’t even LOOKING for an idea, is priceless and beautiful beyond comprehension. I wish, oh I wish, I had more revelations like this. They are few and far between. But I can tell you that my best ideas DO come in such a fashion. When and where I least expect them. God, how I love that.

So. You. I’m not idly asking you where your ideas come from. I really, really want to know. When you have imagination constipation, where do your scenes and settings, that dialogue that evades you—the whole shooting match that suspends YOUR characters in literary purgatory—what incidents have happened to free your mind and set them free?

4 Comments:

Z.A. Maxfield said...

Most of my ideas come from observation. Proust said, "The real voyage of discover consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." I mean seriously, isn't this the man who managed 17 volumes out of a madeleine cookie? (Never read it BTW) But the fact of the matter is once we start to play at the art of writing we start to observe things differently. I think that's what helps us to get better. It certainly helps us to perform consistently and is one tool in the arsenal against block.

Great observation! :D

Lisa Alexander-Griffin said...

Like you, Carol. My ideas come when least expected, but not when I need them most. Ahem...I've had that writer's constipation thing lately too. lol. Partially due to edits I've been doing for the past week or so...but hopefully fresh scenes will flow through my mind soon. I need them.:)

sarahballance said...

Aw, I love the story behind the story and that's a good one!

As for myself, I've learned that when my mind can't get the words through to my fingertips it's usually because I'm preoccupied with something else. So first I write down whatever I'm thinking or worrying about - even if it's just a grocery list - and then the dam bursts and the words flow. And boy, does that ever feel good!

Regina Carlysle said...

Like Sarah, I usually get blocked when I have too many things on my mind. Long road trips (alone) really help. Maybe it's the scenery that opens my mind to the good stuff and shoves away the other junk but I find it works. It a road trip isn't in the cards, folding laundry usually jump starts me. LOL. I know it sounds silly but the repetition of it, helps me focus.