Saturday, 19 March 2011

When inspiration fails, try Google instead.

I’ve been asked more than once this semester where my ideas come from, and I don’t know, so I Googled “Where do ideas come from?” After sifting through a lot of rubbish, I found this quote:

“What separates the creative from the not-so-creative isn’t so much the ability to come up with ideas but the ability to trust them, or to trust ourselves to realize them.”

Basically, everyone has ideas, creative people just have the nerve to run with them, see where they go. I wasn’t sure about this idea, since I discard a LOT of ideas, and it didn’t really say where said ideas come from, and found this:

“good hunches collide with other good hunches, sometimes creating big breakthroughs and innovations”

and this made much more sense to me. I get a lot of ideas while reading, a line or a concept or even just a word will trigger something, and I think that whatever it is must connect with something I’ve read or heard before and stored somewhere in my mind, and that forms the basis of the idea which then expands and evolves and mutates. That part happens quite naturally, the idea changes. I can’t come up with things when I think about them, only when I’m too busy to stop and write stuff down do I come up with ideas (this happens a lot while driving). According to the Big Bang Theory, this is called activating the superior colliculus of your brain, it engages the practical side of the mind, leaving the creative part to tick away on its own and generate plenty of ideas.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Who said that?

A writer should be 'invisible'.

As a reader, I don't want to know about the author unless I decide I want to know about them. I don't want to open a book and find a photograph of the author with a page about their life and achievements, although I'm okay with having that at the end of the book. I like to know about a writer, but only after I've read their work. I like to form my own opinion of a book before considering what opinion the author wants me to form. Knowing, for example, that John Cheever was an alcoholic affects the way I read his work. I don't want it to; I want to believe I can read a book and make my own unique opinion. But I don't think I can. I don't think it's possible to know about a writer and not have that affect the way you read and interpret their work. So I try to avoid knowing too much about a writer, in case it affects my enjoyment of their book. One example is Twilight, as I read it with no idea that Stephenie Meyer was a Mormon. A lot of the complaints made about her forcing Mormon values on teenage girls didn’t bother me, because I didn’t even pick up on them. I like not knowing about a writer.

Of course, as a writer, I like to think that I'm quite important in terms of what I write, so I suppose I'd have to say I'm on the fence about this one.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Option 2 (I may edit with a better title if I come up with one)

Ernest Hemingway once said that “when writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature,” and I think this is a really important distinction to make. Living people are flawed, every single one of them, and so I think it’s crucial that, to make characters believable, they have to be flawed in some way. Perfection is boring. So, considering the statement “A protagonist that embodies the flaws and weaknesses of the writer distracts the reader from the narrative itself,” I’d have to say that I disagree. It’s not enough in my opinion for a character to be simply flawed, that aspect of their personality has to be as believable as any other part, and I think it probably is easier to write convincingly about a flaw that you have, a trait that you possess. Therefore, if the character embodies the flaws of the writer, they might end up being a better character for it. Then, I suppose, you have to consider the awareness of the reader. If I didn’t know that John Cheever was an alcoholic, would that change the way I read his work? I don’t think it would, but I try not to let knowledge of the author affect the way I read things. I’m a firm believer that the words are far more important than the context, so what I’m really saying here is that a protagonist with the same flaws as the writer can only be distracting if you’re aware of the connection. And I prefer not to be aware.