My brain works like this: bits of thoughts, ideas, feelings, and impressions are constantly being fed into it, then every once in a while, the amorphous cloud of junk in my head coalesces into a singular IDEA, usually with an ACTION nipping at its heels.
To say that it’s MY idea feels presumptuous; I regularly tell people that I steal all my best ideas from others. But I think this is how writing works: bits and pieces taken from the fabric of our lives and stitched together into something new (either patchwork quilt, or if we’re very lucky, Frankenstein).
The bits that formed my newest IDEA:
- Fall 2009: The brain spark for my Mindjack series came to me while I was in bed, in that half-asleep state while you try to settle your brain and drift off into unconsciousness (this happened long ago, but I’m often reminded of it, because in interviews people ask me where the idea came from).
- Summer 2011: While on vacation, I read an article about how we store information in our unconscious mind, which led me to believe that intuition was our own personal superpower.
- Early 2012: Some random blog post talked about how we waste the best minutes/hours of the day (supposedly the early ones, when we’re fresh), by checking email and blogging (*raises hand* guilty).
- April 2012: I read a book called The Power of Habit that talked more about our subconscious and how studies show that we literally “turn off” sections of our minds when habit takes over, and that learned abilities are stored in a different part of brains, untapped until called upon. It’s like the brain knows how to be efficient with its resources, or something crazy scientific like that.
- May 2012: I set some personal goals with regards to my writing (I’m always doing this, especially when I start a new book): first, boost my creativity (with regards to my storytelling, but also everything I do, because I believe creativity is a muscle that grows stronger with use), and second, bring more “beauty” to my writing (not so far as aspiring to be a literary writer, but take a step closer to the craft level of Holly Black, who I greatly admire).
- June 2012: I’m reading Ray Bradbury’s The Zen in the Art of Writing, prompted by his unfortunate passing and his reputation as a prolific short story writer. I’ve recently embarked on a short story blitz, reading shorts, studying the craft, all in preparation of writing some of my own. Although I love Fahrenheit 451 and The Illustrated Man, I hadn’t read much (read: any) of Bradbury’s shorts. What I discovered was that Bradbury was an exceptionally literary writer (gasp!). But more importantly, as he talks about in Zen, he believed strongly that his subconscious mind (or Muse, or Divine Inspiration, or what-have-you) was the source of all his stories. Bradbury believed that creativity was more a matter of tapping into this source of knowledge buried within us, rather than forcing it through a conscious act.
the future” and “stiff with
expectation” and “wring out the
emotions from me in drops”) – and that was just the first day.
Can you tell that my conscious mind is terrified of this process?
There is great irony here, as well. Bradbury talks about using his literary short stories to “legitimize” his science fiction to serious publishers like Collier’s, who would normally look down their noses at the “pulp” that he wrote (Bradbury wrote pulp! I knew he was my hero). The irony that it was Bradbury’s credentials in SF that brought me to his more literary leanings and mystical process is not lost on me.