The Word Factory…
Sometimes I picture a miniature version of myself toiling away inside my brain in what I think of as ‘The Word Factory’. Honestly, I don’t know if I ever had this mental image before reading Stephen King’s ‘Dreamcatcher’ (if you’ve read it – or seen the movie – you might remember the character Jonesy and his memory warehouse) but I have a completely functioning mental image of this tiny Robin struggling to find the right words to put together on the right lines. Is that crazy? Maybe, but I’m oddly okay with this.
Let me take a quick minute here to tell you how my ideas are usually born; it almost always starts with a single line. Some random little tidbit (such as “Hush now, my New Orleans’ Baby in the poem ‘New Orleans’ Baby’ or “It’s been a third of a lifetime…” in the short story ‘Jay’). Most of the time I don’t know what the line wants to be; is it a poem? It is a song? Is it a story, or just a strange rambling of ideas that needs to be spewed out on the page (such as this)? ‘Jay’ for example, seemed to me like a poem; it only became a short story after I realized that’s what it really wanted to become.
Here’s how that works. I’ll be doing something completely unrelated; working on my novel perhaps, or reading the news for the day; and then BAM!!! an idea (a ‘line’) explodes through my brain with all the ferocity of a speeding locomotive. I’ve tried to ignore these ‘lines’ before, but they never go away until they’ve been – at the very least – scribbled down somewhere. Frequently, when I’ve managed to clear up some time to pay the ‘line’ proper attention, I’ll switch from computer to notebook; I find that scribbling in a notebook often releases more of the creative flow; and attempt to single handily murder the rain forests in an attempt to give the ‘line’ a proper birthing (don’t worry, my eldest has made recycling mandatory around here). Sometimes the line ends up dying in utero; the sad fate some ideas must face so that others can thrive; but often, once I’ve figured out what the idea wants to become, I will toil on it obsessively until it reaches maturity.
By now you’re probably wondering if there’s a point to this ramble… I pause now to try to remember if there was one… oh right! Yes, there’s two points actually. The first is that I’m currently working on something I hope to share with you fine folks likely tomorrow (rough draft is all finished up, but I like to give stories at least a good half a day to ferment before I edit usually). It’s one of the rarities that occasionally occur with a ‘line’… it refused to be shoved into either a story or a poem, but instead demanded to be both. I’ve still not decided just how I’ll be posting that for your reading enjoyment (or horror as the case may be) but I’ll work out those details later – this is just a heads up to let you know that it’s coming.
The second point I had was that I would LOVE to know more about how other people’s ideas are born; maybe just so that I know I’m not the only one with a crazy little version of themselves rushing around frantically in their brains trying to stretch a single line into a full-fledged child; so, PLEASE leave a comment if you know something about your personal process. Of course, I’ll forgive you if don’t (sad face), since most of the writers I’ve known in life had claimed to have no idea where their ideas come from, and that they have no tried and true process for developing them. Many writers I’ve known have said simply, “It just sort of happens.” Still, I’d love to hear from you.
On that note, I’m off to catch up on blogs (I’m more than a little behind today) before I try to tickle a whole new ‘line’ into confessing its deep, dark secrets.