What inspires you to write?

A certain feeling, or idea? A shade, or color? A memory, or a dream?

Grab every little thing that sparks your imagination, and use it. The bobbing head of a black bird, the way a leaf twists in the chill wind, the boiling shape of a cloud. The twirl of your gut while falling from a height, the similar twirl while falling in love, the flare of anger in your chest, the prickle of anxiety on your scalp. The mystery of an unopened box… the unease of a dark corner… the satisfaction of a smoothly interlocking puzzle…

Gather all these feelings and burn them in your mind’s furnace to fuel your fingers and write, write, write!


Amazing ideas

You have them, all the time. And some part of you might want to hold onto them, to save them for later when you’re ‘better’. Or you might think that one idea is the best idea you’ll ever have, and you might feel anxious to get it right. Well, you’ll have a hundred other ideas, and they’ll be even better. Your writing from several years ago isn’t as good as it is now, and so your ideas in a few years will be better.

Use up those ideas as you get them, it’s exercise for your brain to think up more!

Walk a new path

Walking generates ideas. It turns gears that churn the mix in my brain and make new things pop up. However, I’ve found that walking the same geographical location, turns up the same thoughts. It’s as if my mind is walking down it’s own internal path, and passing the same ideas over and over again.

I’ve been stuck on my current novel for a while now. I go out during breaks and walk around and think. But I’ve been coming up with nothing. Today, though, I walked a different path. It was barely different, just slightly off my usual path, facing a new direction, seeing new sights, and it felt as if my mind was pushing through the brush, forging new trails, and I had new ideas. Finally, my block is over, all because I stepped off the path just slightly.

Try it! If you walk or bike or run or drive to think, take a different path than you usually do, and I bet you’ll have some fresh ideas!

Doers and preservers

I just listened to the section in Crime and Punishment featuring the talk about Raskolnikov’s article. (very minor spoilers) The article talks about what Raskolnikov calls ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ people, and their differences. The ordinary people, he says, are happy to be ruled and told what to do, and have not many exciting or interesting ideas, and live normal, daily lives of work, family, and happiness. ‘Extraordinary people’ are geniuses, leaders, inventors, and those who ‘create new words’. These people are not as bound by authority, and rules. This being the major point. Ordinary people are bound by the law, extraordinary people are not. Extraordinary people’s conscience allows them to break the law for their ideals/inventions/causes, without guilt, or with some remorse but knowing it’s worth it in the long run. Raskolnikov says these people have ‘the right to break the law’. Not that they have the right to go unpunished, but that their conscience gives them the right to break the law without guilt.

This started me thinking about similar thoughts I’ve had. Not about crime, or punishment, but about people’s reactions toward new ideas in general.

There seems to be (generally) two kinds of people, but instead of ordinary and extraordinary, I thought of them as ‘preservers’ and ‘doers’

Preservers are resistant to change and want to keep things the way they are, or if they want change they want it to be the way something was in the past. When presented with a new idea, new cause, new invention, new way of looking at things, new discovery–they will find the problems with it, the reasons not to embrace it, the reasons it is dangerous and should be avoided, the reasons it is wrong or immoral. This seems to me to be the majority of people, though I do not think that makes them ordinary.

The ‘doers’ are the people who present the new ideas, strive for change in our way of life, make discoveries and propose inventions, etc. They fight passionately for these ideas regardless of the negative consequences, possibly without even looking for or imagining there could be negative consequences. These people seem to be a minority–at least the ones we hear about.

I think we need both kinds of people. We can’t embrace every idea that anyone has, we need the preservers to knock down and find the negative side of every crap idea to prevent them from getting anywhere. The ideas that are strong enough to survive the attacks of the preservers, will eventually convince them.

Of course, someone could be both preserver and doer, and probably most people have a lot of both in them. But it seems that those who make big discoveries and movements and inventions are less negative people who are willing to embrace an idea regardless, or in spite of consequences.

So next time you’re reading the comments on an article about some neat new thing, and run into the inevitable crowd of people finding something wrong with it or dangerous or saying ‘oh no humanity will end because abc,’ try not to be annoyed, and instead be glad–they’re doing a job you don’t have the pain of having to do! (or if you do, I thank you that I don’t have to be the one doing it!)

Alternate worlds: in which a deadly disease also makes the infected extremely beautiful

Jane is infected with a disease that will kill her in a matter of weeks. It is incurable, no matter how hard the medical world has tried, and it kills in all cases, shriveling the internal organs into useless husks, and putting all the energy gained from this atrophy into reconstructing the afflicted’s outward appearance.

Over the weeks leading to her death, Jane’s face rearranges itself to be a symmetrical, proportional and clear version of itself. The fat melts off her body and her proportions shift into what most would call beautiful, attractive, sexy. Her ‘beauty’ continues to increase until the point of her death.

Would these kinds of features–that generally are called beautiful–continue to be attractive, when they signal impending death? Would people who just happen to be very beautiful without the disease be shunned? How long would it take before our brains evolved to find ‘beauty’ repulsive? If this disease was sexually transmitted, it might happen very quickly…

At the start of it, though, perhaps people would intentionally catch the disease, as a way to experience being breathtakingly, painfully beautiful before they die.

Late night thoughts

Somewhere, there is a tree growing which will some day be cut down and made into your coffin.

No one will ever truly know you, but you.

The person you love most in the world has secrets they will take to their grave, kept even from you.

The things people do for love, when done for any other object or reason, are called either addiction or mental illness.

Eating dead animal parts is really weird if you think about it too much.

You have no choice but to believe in free will.

You won’t remember reading this post a few years from now. How is that different than never having read it?


Predator in pathetic guise

I’m a bit more than halfway through Lolita, and am beginning to feel disturbed and disgusted. A slow, sickening feeling has been building for a while, and finally made me realize that Humbert is not a pathetic loser, but a cold predator.

He is telling his story with the object of gaining sympathy. To do this he paints himself as a helpless freak, who knows what he’s doing is gross but can’t help himself. He tries to show how good his intentions are, how much of a sap he is for Lolita, how she has such power over him to make him want to do these things. But in reality he is manipulating and using her as an object purely for his own pleasure.

Little things, little hints, show this to be true.

From the start of the story he tries to show that Lolita has only captured him so because she reminds him of a lost love he had with a girl her age, when he was that age also. It is only her (that lost girl from his past), specifically that does this to him, she is special–a psychological longing for an incomplete romance–and when he sees Lolita she reminds him so much of that girl from his past that he has to be near her, in any way he can. It is possible, dear reader, to be sympathetic with these feelings.

However, as the story progresses we find that Humbert, despite his insistence of Lolita’s singularity, is attracted to–and leers unabashedly at!–every girl-child that crosses his path. Clearly, this is not a one-time occasion for him, as he would have us think.

Humbert claims to care for Lolita, to love her, to want only to please her and make her happy. Yet, when her mother is killed in an accident his first thought is to lie to her about it in order to keep her in a better mood. Not for her own sake, but so he doesn’t have to stop enjoying her presence.

There are so many other instances, subtle phrases or points of view–too many to list, and I’m sure many I haven’t noticed–that show Humbert’s monstrosity. It is fascinating and disgusting at once.

This book is so finely crafted and subtle, despite its blunt subject material, that I imagine I’ll be thinking about it for years to come.