A lot of times when I write something, whether it be a poem or a story, I have an idea of how the idea came to be. There is a line of thinking that led from point A to B to C and so forth. Sometimes my mind takes quite the creative leap from one subject or idea to the next, but there is some sort of connection there, though sometimes quite thin or bizarre. Other times I know what triggered an idea, the initial experience that occurred in my life that was the inspiration for whatever it is that I am writing.
For example, many eons ago I was talking on the phone with my girlfriend at the time (this was before widespread cell phone usage, I was sitting at a desk in my parents dining room, chained to the wall) and she asked me to write her a poem.
I asked her for a word to start the creative process, and she said “kiss”.
I wrote this poem:
Two lovers’ lips
Full red with passion
Hungry for each other
Meet in the dark of night
Quick and fleeting
That meeting is, though
Not for lack of wanting
But rather, for fear
Of being caught
Now it didn’t take me long to write that poem, and it has remained unchanged since I first wrote it. Don’t ask me how I got from “kiss” to that poem, but at least I know what started it.
Here’s an easy one: A line popped into my head yesterday morning. “What lies between the light and the shadow?” That may seem rather random, however, the night before I had watched a short demo video and read some descriptions of a video game my friend Steve Emond is working on. If you look into it, you’ll see where that particular thought came from. Here’s a link.
Of course, that’s just a line. Next step is to figure what it’s referring to. Do the “light” and “shadow” refer to good and evil? Or life and death? Or just light and darkness? Is it a line from a poem, or is it something someone in a story says? I don’t know yet. Maybe it’s none of those things. It sounds cool, so I’ll hang on to it, but right now, it’s just a line that may or may not be inspiration.
Then there are those thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere. I have no idea, no clue why I thought of them. Sometimes they are dark, sometimes they are silly.
Here’s an example: I was riding the bus home from work almost two months ago. A jumbled up string of words stuck in my brain, something like “old, white, wobbly, rickety wooden chair”. Out of nowhere. No clue. I don’t know where it came from. As far as I can remember, I’ve not even seen a picture of a wooden chair in who knows how long, let alone a white one.
But my brain wouldn’t let it go. I tried to fit in as many words starting with “w” in that line, words that described that chair. Most of the “w” words didn’t really work, but I did end up writing this poem out of it:
ye old chair: worn and wobbly
clickity clack and
down you sit and
to the floor you fall
paint chips drift and
fall in your hair
bits of debris go flying and
bouncing off the wall
good friends gasp and
your best friends laugh
because your chair broke and
you’re not sitting so tall
That silly poem was mostly written on the bus ride home, all from a random bunch of words that randomly popped into my head from nowhere. Where does this stuff come from?
Maybe I dreamt some dream but didn’t remember it, and it later bubbles up into my thoughts. Maybe I heard someone say something, but I didn’t realize I heard it, and that later triggered a few synapses in my brain. Maybe I’m just weird. Maybe the aliens are trying to perfect their mind control techniques on me. Got tin foil, anyone?