Monday, February 14, 2011

Wash, rinse, repeat: how novels are born

This morning, theLiz was telling me that she got a brill idea while in the shower.  She practically wrote the whole opening chapter and figured out how to reframe the novel/story so that it would be less work to develop and write!  Ah! Ray-of-light-shining-down-on-the-hilltop moment!

"Why," she said, "do I always get great ideas in the shower?"

"It's the only time you're not multitasking and overworked," I said.  "Wash, rinse, repeat, doesn't require higher brain function, so your subconscious shows up and says by the way, I've found a solution for that problem you were working on, I just didn't want to bother you while you were busy earlier."

She's not the only writerly friend of mine who does some of her best plotting in the shower.  Me? I'm not a shower-plotter.  In the shower I rehearse lectures I'm thinking of giving in the classes I teach.  Or I rehash conversations that I wish had gone differently -- the real life kind not the fictional ones.

My best accidental writing zone is the time before bed.  It has the same conditions as the shower: you're not busy, not working on anything else, you're not able to do another task with those spare minutes because you're supposed to be falling asleep (or all ready asleep).  That's when I start writing scenes in my head and planning out conversations (the fictional kind this time),  It's also the time when I'm most likely to lose my utterly brilliant ideas.

I'll repeat a scene or line again and again, telling myself I WILL remember this in the morning, and then I don't.  Whammie.

My solution?  No, I refuse to get out of bed and write it down -- warm, comfortable, possibly with a cat asleep on my leg. not. getting. up.  No, I refuse to put a pen and paper beside my bed b/c that will mean turning on a light -- gah! harsh light! oh and I upset the cat, damn.  My solution: iPod touch.

Hello, my name is Eileen, and I sleep with my iPod touch.

Now when these ideas strike I grab the ipod, open the notepad application, type until my thumbs/wrists hurt and the auto-spell has fucked up half my words but I'm too sleepy to care, and then email it to myself.  The next morning, coffee in hand, I open my email to -- huh? whaz dat? it's ... oh. OH! Story!!!!!

And all is well with the world.

Where or when is your epiphany place/time?

Photo credit: Rock&Ice

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