Tell me where is fancy bred, Or in the heart or in the head?

I sometimes feel a bit like I am an anthropologist in my own life, observing how I grow and develop as a writer.  I am motivated more by a desire to understand my own writing process and what feeds that creativity than narcissism.   One of the things I am trying to figure out is how it is I come up with ideas for novels.  There is clearly a difference in how this functions as my short game is quite mechanical.

It goes something like this:

1. Come up with a cool concept

2.  Identify a main character

3.  Identify underlying interest of story (moral, emotional or ethical themes)

4.  Storyboard/ Script by by scenes the major layout

5.  Start writing

This to me fits very closely in-line with how I create a marketing program in my day job.  It is a process I understand.

Novels on the other hand…

1. Get frustrated about not having an idea that is suitable

a. Lay in the bathtub and stew on why I don’t like my current ideas

b. Complain to writer friends about the fact I do not have any ideas for a novel but brag I came up with 9 short stories over lunch

I. Get pelted with fries or lawn darts from writer friends

c. Come  up with an idea, take turns falling in love with it and hating it on alternating days…

d. Go revise current manuscript which feels like a worm hole to a universe filled with crappy prose, continuity and grammatical errors

e. Decided to love new idea two days on and hate it one day off

f. Come up with a start to the story, again stewing in the tub and approaching near fatal levels of pruny phalanges, hate it, ditch the whole story arc

2.  Debate becoming a beet farmer in Idaho

I think you get the point…

Stories for novels seem to come from some kind of fault line inside me where my emotional continental plates gird up against my rational ones like a Frat boys on ecstasy.  It is a damned obscure process for which I am unable, YET to arrive at any working model for speeding up the process.  A good friend Beth calls this composting and it seems to be about right.   Enough creative biomass has to build up to set off the reactions to break down the dross into something fertile and usable.

I welcome your comments.

-Seamus (composting)

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1 Response to Tell me where is fancy bred, Or in the heart or in the head?

  1. Novels are long enough they seem to need more complexity. Short stories can come in a flash, but the only times I’ve successfully started a novel in a flash I’d had several components brewing for some time before they came together.

    I’ve liked a lot of metaphors I’ve heard for it–L’Engle’s stock pot metaphor, King’s archeology excavation simile–but compost is pretty good, too.

    I need to go pay some attention to my compost, come to think of it…maybe it’ll jar loose something for this novel I’m premeditating.

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