Monday, November 10, 2008

Inspiration: from a spark to a damp squid

Dave Freer posting: For some of us ideas come easy. Execution is hard (especially for the executee).

For the less brilliant of us, it’s all bloody hard. Look, if you’re all inspiration and no follow-through you’re never going to write anything. But all the hard work in the world can end up as turgid and meaningless as yet another crank-the-handle book without those moments of ‘gotcha’ WOW sparkly lights and YES!!!

I wish I knew how to turn that on at will. Because it has to happen... at least once a book for me. When I simply can’t get the words out fast enough, when the pieces of the puzzle FIT, when the words are just right.
But when I stick... I stick. I have various tricks for unsticking like jumping ahead, reading back. But sometimes that’s futile. It’s my mind telling me the story needs that ‘whoopee’ moment. And unless I find that, it won’t work. You see... I am a synthesist (or a lumper). I have this sort of anti-computer in my head that takes apparently unrelated pieces of apparent garbage... and for no logical reason sticks bits together, making them fit -- possibly making them into real garbage rather than just apparent garbage.
And every now and again it says ‘does not fit. Out of cheese error.’ Occasionally ‘redo from start’

I’ve learned to listen, because the end result otherwise is pointless meaningless crap. Moreover, it’s crap that I hate.
Redo from start requires little explanation.
Does not fit... usually means I need more background. Need to remix. I have the SOME of the stimulus pinned down (in a display case. Odd name for a butterfly, but that is scientists for you. Naming odd butterflies that flap their wings and cause hurricanes of ideas... and get long pins stuck through them) to make it happen for me. Firstly I need read up my background sources, and then to clear the decks and focus hard (desk stripped of books to the wood) . E-mail and Internet disconnected. Distractions (bills) and emotional upsets need to be dealt with. Take a brisk walk. Climb something. Catch a fish. And I need to do no other writing (or reading). Not jump ahead or work on something else. I’ll swear there is something alcoholic about books because I seem to need good ingredients (albeit sometimes unlikely ones) to ferment a bit.
It can be terrifying when you hit these, especially with deadline looming.
So far the spark has always lit up a Loligo vulgaris for me. Maybe one day I’ll get a Archituethis dux or even a Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni...
Now... I’m selling calamari. If only I could find more people who liked it.


Rowena Cory Daniells said...


You're absolutely right. When the flow stops something is not working and you subconsciously know it. Go back, read through, correct and spring-board from there.

But when it flows it is wonderful. I had one of those buzz days yesterday. Itching to get back to it. (Wrote 38 pages, in between jumping up to drive kids to school, to part time jobs and doing the shopping).

Cheers, R

Dave Freer said...

There is a fine line, of course, between wasting time and effort, and not writing anything all, and never finishing anything. I sit down to write, ever single day. I have a simple rule - do not get up until you have written 200 words. Write at least 2000 a day. That doesn't mean I don't wipe them, later. I think knowing comes with experience, sadly.
38 pages? Wow.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Dave said: 38 pages, wow.

I was on a roll. Only 20 today and I've given myself a whole pile of problems.

Not bad ones. I have to close the books' story arc, but leave it open for the next one in the series.

I get really frustrated when authors (no names mentioned) set up great characters and problems and never resolve any of them, but lead us through book after book with cliff hanger endings.

So I'm trying to tie of some of the threads, while leaving some open ended. Just the sort of problem I like.

Cheers, R.