Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Getting the Ball Rolling

Welcome to 2013. I hope everyone made it through the night safely and without any large fee's to pay from the night's activities. This being the first blog of the new year, I thought I'd start at the beginning. So since the ball has dropped, let's get it rolling.

Where do all the ideas come from? A bit of a difficult question to answer, as a lot of ideas come from a lot of different things. Ideas can come from need, from looking at the things around them, from dreams, and from that interesting little combination of words "What if?".

A lot of my early stories came from need; or rather, from restrictions given to me by others. My first real attempts to write were in junior high school, through a program called Reflections. I don't know if the whole point of the program was just to encourage people to use their artistic side more or not, but I remember despite people being declared winners there were no prizes other than individual pictures in the school yearbook. The first year I entered, there was a specific theme of (wait for it) reflections. I won first place in writing with my short story. I was particularly proud of that piece as well and I'm currently re-writing it partially because I lost the original, but also because I've grown as a writer a lot since then. (Incidentally, the winner for first place in musical composition for that first Reflections contest, David Perry, has already gone on with his music as the lead guitarist and singer of the up-and-coming band BlackBeatBlue.) As well, in high school, a lot of my writing was done specifically for friends in genre's they requested.

For quite a while after that, my writing fell by the wayside. I had a few pieces I did, but most didn't stick around and fewer still were really any quality. Need was also the catalyst for the story that brought me fully back to my writing. My piece What Comes of Dreams which is still currently looking for a home, was written to be submitted to an anthology honoring Edgar Allen Poe. It wasn't accepted, but I still have faith it will eventually find a home. Since then, I've done a lot better job of keeping track of my ideas and many of them I can still tell you where they came from.

Some stories came from my biology class during one of my stints at college. A few ideas are adapted versions of other stories I've read, while others are almost in-jokes at my own dating attempts. Some stories still come from need and I actually enjoy a few extra restrictions to follow sometimes. As I'm focusing more and more on my writing though, I'm finding more and more ideas are simply showing up; and not just short story ideas. More and more I'm finding ideas that are reaching for novel length and each one seems to be reaching further than the last. My first novel attempt, a story tentatively titled Neighbors, doesn't even hit the 50,000 word mark that many would view as the bare minimum for book-length piece. My current piece though, which I'm calling Testing the Vision, is already promising to surpass that by a fair degree. I don't know how long it will eventually end up being, but the work I've finished already is very promising. Already, another idea in my head which has already named itself The Nightmare Factory, is promising to be even longer still, with a myriad of characters and relationships to delve into.

Creativity is seeming more and more to me like a muscle, just like an arm or a leg. You can force it to a degree, but it's going to hurt and the outcome might not be what you would prefer. The more you use it though, the easier and stronger it gets, to the point where you just reach out and it gets what you're looking for. You always hear about people; writers, artists, and musicians that have a hard time getting back to work after prolonged periods of rest. It could be said again that creativity is like a muscle, and periods without use will allow it to atrophy just as people who are bedridden for extended periods have to learn to walk all over again. Creativity is the basis for our whole world, new inventions, new stories, new music, all stem from creativity. Some might be good, some might be bad, some might not even be recognized for years to come, but it all starts with a single, simple idea. What if?

~ Shaun

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