About a month ago I went to an excellent writer’s meeting organised by our church and we discussed the methods of writing and the formation of ideas. We heard one author’s take on the process (Steve, help me out, who was it?) and as it was being read, I formed one of my own. It is a visual representation of the idea process that goes on in my head, and how I handle it. So I’m sorry if this idea about ideas is a bit hard to follow, but I hope it’s interesting.
The idea formation is like finding a rough gemstone in your brain. It’s beautiful and pure but has an uncomfortable form. The edges are rough, but sometimes that’s fine. What I then chose to do with it is to look it over for a while as I decide what to do with it. This means the idea sits in the back of my mind just lurking there for a bit, in this instance, it’s been about a month. As I think about it, I will do one of two things with it. One of those is that I will cut it down, removing waste and smoothing out the rough edges. The beautiful gem is now changed and its purity is lessened, but its usefulness and beauty are improved. The other activity is synthesizing it with other gems I have in the bank. These gems may not even seem like gems, but be rusty metal. The result will be something I’m happy with, as I won’t stop until I get to this point. Something like a ring is now formed in my head, but it’s only for me.
It’s only then that I begin to write it, which is what I’m doing here. Some say this is mutilating the pure form that you had in your head, or as Stephen King put it, “Kill your darlings.” However, I’ve never seen it that way, because I still get to see my gem. The thing I create is an ode to it, and quite frankly, if they could see it fully, they’d probably love it too. If I can just show them a hint of my gem, then I’d be happy. Better yet, I give them a new gem to mould and synthesize themselves.
So, that’s what works for me. It takes time and effort, but it’s always worth it. I rarely know where it’s going to go when I start and even if I think I do, a new gem can come along and lead to a complete redesign. I much prefer that to finding imperfections that need to be carved out.