The Well of Creativity

How do you find your well of creativity?

I used to work with a man who had all his best ideas in the shower. Others find running sparks creativity. For me, it’s driving. Not city driving, or bumper-to-bumper freeway driving, but long, mostly empty back roads (Blue highways, William Least-Heat Moon called them in his book about travel and place and belonging).

I was stuck, in my current work-in-progress, with a plot not complex enough for characters who are diplomats, subtle and devious. I needed a central conflict to have more layers to disguise a character’s behaviour. Pacing around the house didn’t help. So this morning, I went driving.

I’d gone perhaps 10 kilometers when something began to take shape, an idea rooted in a past book in the series and paralleling another subplot. Hmmm, I thought, this has potential. So what if…?  By 30 km from the house, I had the outline. At about 50 km, I pulled over into a church parking lot in a tiny village, took my notebook out of my bag, and wrote notes for twenty minutes.

What is it about easy driving (or showering, or running)? I think it’s the repetitious, known activity that frees part of your mind to wander; the motor function taking its needed neurons, and leaving the rest to be creative. (And for me, at least, I can talk aloud to myself when driving, and that seems to help.)

This has, I think, roots in my childhood, when we’d drive to see an aunt a few hours away, or even into the city to shop, a shorter trip. I couldn’t read in the car; it made me carsick, so I’d look out the windows and make up things about what I saw: if this were my farm, I’d paint the fences white, and have ponies. Maybe that road leads to an abandoned village, the houses still standing. I’ll bet owls live in that old barn. Daydreams, but also stories.

I wish cleaning shook loose creativity in the same way; then I’d be doing something else useful at the same time. But sadly it doesn’t. I need a passing landscape: flying doesn’t have the same effect, nor does night driving. Trains are wonderful, but I haven’t much call to take trains in Canada. And the car does need to be taken out occasionally.

The results of today’s drive will keep my work-in-progress focused for some time. But sooner or later I’ll bump up against another problem that will need solving, and off I’ll go.

How do you find your well of creativity?

Local Support!

I was very pleased when our local arts council asked to interview me for their website.

Writers need support.  Yes, we work alone, in silence or not, depending on our individual preferences, and much of our thinking and plotting and creating is done in solitude, too.  But we need colleagues to talk to, and when we get to publication, we need a different sort of support: publicity.  So I was very pleased when our local arts council asked to interview me for their website.  Here’s the link:

https://guelpharts.ca/marian-thorpe-launches-the-empire-s-hostage

Thanks again to the Guelph Arts Council!

Rain

It’s been raining, hard, for several days now. In some areas of Ontario, and in neighbouring Quebec, flooding has become a serious issue.  My own issue is minor: I can’t write.

I can’t write – or more specifically, I can’t build plot and setting and action –  because I can’t go walking.  Walking is when my brain makes lateral connections, seeing relationships, making jumps of understanding. Treadmill walking doesn’t work: I’ve tried, but I need, it seems, to be outside, letting the wind and birdsong and all the other distractions of nature occupy enough of my active brain to let the ruminations occur behind the scenes, as it were, until something pops out. Once the understanding is there, I can put words to paper regardless of weather – but the understanding needs the walking.

I’ve got enough to occupy me, with the continuing copy-editing and formatting of Empire’s Hostage in preparation for publication, but Book III is bubbling somewhere in the depths of my subconscious, and it wants out.  It wants me to wander for hours along trails (which are currently mires of mud), looking for warblers, listening for catbirds, while synapses connect bits of ideas and previous knowledge and pure imagination to begin the next stages of Lena’s journey. The rain is due to stop tomorrow: a huge relief for those affected by flooding, and a different relief for me.

Rain photo:  By Juni from Kyoto, Japan (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons