Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Being Creative

Wow, it sounds like there's actually some interest in my wacky fairy tale book. Sadly, every single publisher in New York rejected it. I suppose it could be that the idea was clever but the writing wasn't good enough. Or it could be that they expected it to be a chick-litty style comedy when it's more of a mix of humor and drama (I'd say a similar tone to Buffy -- some humor and funny one-liners, and the premise may sound kind of silly on the surface, but they're actually in some really scary situations. Instead of being a comedy it's more of a serious story about characters who have a sense of humor and who are dealing with an odd situation). That is a book I'm considering e-publishing myself, since I have it written, the publishers don't want it, some readers might want it, and it's not doing me any good just sitting on my hard drive. I haven't looked at it in a couple of years, so I may want to give it another once-over and see if maybe the publishers were right and how much work it needs. Or maybe I'll still love it and decide to prove the publishers wrong.

In the meantime, I'm stuck in a holding pattern where I have something with an urgent, pending due date, but I can't do anything about it until someone else gets their part done, and they're already a week past when they said it would be done. When I get it, I'm going to have to leap on it instantly and then work really hard to make the deadline, so I'm almost afraid to delve into any other work that's only going to have to get shoved aside. So I've found odd little ways to spend my time. Yesterday, I was working out my Halloween costume. I had something planned that would actually be pretty timely for pop culture, but it turns out that the party I'm going to has a theme this year, and while dressing for the theme isn't required, I think it would be fun, and my planned costume was the exact opposite of the theme. I planned something else that was kind of tangential to the theme, but then yesterday I got an idea for something else that might fit better and that could be a lot of fun. However, I suspect it will generate a lot of photos posted to Facebook or elsewhere on the Internet. Hey, publicity, right?

The other thing I was doing was reading a book I picked up for a dollar at that warehouse sale. It's a business book on creativity, written by a guy who apparently does seminars for corporations to help them brainstorm new ideas. Supposedly, this whole process is copyrighted, but it's very similar to what I do when working on a book idea. In fact, he seems to have validated my creative process. One of his principles is that just telling someone to come up with ideas doesn't get you a lot of ideas, and those ideas won't be very good. You need some kind of stimulus/input to generate creative ideas. The first step in one of his idea generating sessions is to immerse the group in all kinds of input relating to the project -- research as well as relevant sensory input. That's pretty much how I start working on a book. I read all kinds of random stuff even tangentially related to elements of the story, including non-fiction research and novels that have something in common with the story. Then before I really dive into the work, I do a kind of "retreat" in which I watch movies that remind me in some way of the project, listen to music and create a kind of soundtrack for the book and sometimes even eat food that relates to the setting or the characters. After that, I'll start the serious brainstorming and plotting. This theory also validates what I call "iTunes roulette" that I sometimes use either when I'm stuck or when I'm plotting. I put iTunes on shuffle and let it play in the background while I brainstorm, and sometimes a song that comes on will spark some idea. One of my favorite plot twists ever (in a book that got rejected, but I'm salvaging that plot twist for another project) was inspired by a song that came on at just the right time.

There are a few other things in this book that I haven't tried, so I'll have to put them to the test. I do know that I need to improve my sense of adventure. I tend to be a bit of a scaredy cat -- rather risk-averse -- and I need to force myself out of my comfort zone. Most of his suggestions for things to do to generate a sense of adventure utterly terrify me -- not physically because they're not things like skydiving, but socially, as most of them involve some kind of interpersonal situation that would have me looking to join Mole Boy in his tunnel. Sometime next year, depending on when I get the current slate of projects cleared and depending on what becomes of those projects and whether I'll need to do editor revisions or copy edits, write sequels, etc., I will be diving into a totally new project, so I'll have to apply some of these ideas in the planning stage.

Really, though, creativity isn't my problem. I have no shortage of ideas. I'm not sure what my problem is or if it even is my problem, aside from the problem of being square when round is the big trend of the moment.

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