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I’m reading a book I picked up at BEA a few years ago called The Mind of Your Story, discover what drives your fiction, by Lisa Lenard-Cook. She talks a lot about the left brain, right brain thing. Apparently, I get which one is which mixed up all the time, but I do get that one side leads in analytic thinking and the other in creativity.
She talks about taking individual story ideas and putting them together with other story ideas. Maybe you think about a hurricane hitting a small seacoast town. Later on you think about a baby that’s born without legs. And then you something makes you think about aliens landing to learn about our culture. You might put those three story seeds together and write about a woman giving birth during a hurricane and being rescued by compassionate aliens. Hmm, that might be fun to write!
One of her examples was about visiting some elderly friends who both had Alzheimer’s. She went on to describe how she put that story together with two other story seeds, but I was stuck on the two friends with Alzheimer’s. My grandmother had that so I remembered what it was like in the nursing home, seeing her in her wheelchair, lost to the world. She couldn’t, or wouldn’t talk much, and when she did, it wasn’t really her. But two friends with the same illness in the same nursing home made me think of a story idea. What if the two of them could communicate to each other? What if there were lively conversations between them that no one else could see? It could be both sweet and painful.
I’m not very good at writing down tidbits of ideas that I get, but I’m going to start doing that. They may not turn into full-length books, but maybe short stories. Or maybe there is a breakout novel in those germ seeds. That’s the fun part of being a writer. It’s ok to let your imagination run away with you. If you don’t, your stories can be stilted. The three seed idea is intriguing too. Sounds like an interesting way to come up with ideas if you’re stuck.
What do you do to come up with ideas?
I’m a Christian, so I’m just going to step over the primordial soup theory and say that I believe that God created everything–and I love the way He did it. When He made Adam, He breathed life into him. By doing that, He put something of Himself into us. No, I’m not saying we’re little gods. Adam wasn’t made of God’s rib, he was made of clay. But that breath of life was as creative as saying, “Let there be light.”
Now this is all my theory, of course, but I believe that, just as everyone has some amount of faith to believe, everyone also has some amount of creativity in them. They have to, it came from that first breath of life. And just like faith, we have to get serious sometimes to take hold of it. It’s amazing to see people like Akiane, who seemed to be born with a full understanding of their talents, but even Michelangelo spent time as an apprentice before creating his masterpieces. It’s there, but it may need cultivating. It may need some classes to understand how it works and years to bring into full development. Think about a normal child, not Akiane, who starts off coloring with crayons, then learns to use colored pencils, then watercolor, then oils. The talent is developed along with learning to access the creative part inside.
I’m sure that scientists can point to where creativity lives in our brain. “It’s right here on this brain map in what we like to call the Anterior Darwinian Lobe.” I don’t know where it lives, I just know it’s there. It’s hiding with all those other gifts we’ve been given and forget to access: peace, joy, patience, faith. Sometimes we have to just get quiet and ask God to help us find them.
Hmm, someone must be working on a new plot for their book! Someone must be pretty happy right now that said plot came after spending some time meditating on the good things of God! Hey, how did you know that? Yeah! It works. And I believe that it works in all kinds of ways. Just because you’re an artist or musician, doesn’t mean that that’s the only area of creativity you’ve got. In fact, I think the more you access that creativity, the more it spreads to other areas of your life. It might show up in the kitchen or garden or torturing your kids.
I’m glad happy about this and I want more. And God is just sweet enough to give it if we ask. What’s cooking inside of you? What ever it is, it’s yours and unique to you. Don’t hide it, it would be such a waste.