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Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Crazy-Filled Center of My Brain

People often ask me where I come up with my ideas, or how I have so many ideas, or what the hell is that crazy idea all about?

The truth is, I don't know. Sometimes it's just a spark from an environmental clue. A couple of posts ago I talked about an evening spent observing people at a mechanic's shop and letting those observations work their ways into a cohesive story. My current WIP was completely kickstarted by an ad for a watch that had no second, minute or hour hands. It just had a metal ball that rolled around a circular groove to tell time. From that simple advertisement, an entire parallel world was born, complete with characters that sprung out of my head like a Greek god.

Sometimes, like today, I just get odd thoughts. I was sitting in a meeting at work (and let me just say: the more boring the activity, the freer the creative mind!) and I got this sudden feeling. The feeling was "Fall" or "Autumn" if you prefer. I don't know any other way to put it. One minute we're discussing a production order and the next, my mind is full of footballs and raked piles of leaves and tailgates and crisp breezes and jack o'lanterns and earthy tones. No idea where it came from, but it was very pleasant.

I'm sure you've all had cravings and yearnings. They come out of nowhere! It could be chocolate or pickles, maybe it's that favorite movie you haven't seen in years or it's a friend you suddenly have to call. Cravings tend to be food related. Yearnings tend to be people related. (Am I missing any others?) So I thought, what could I call the feeling of Fall? Why, a Seasoning of course!

After I'd experienced my first ever "seasoning" (and once I stopped laughing at the name I'd given it) my brain rolled into full-ahead creative mode. Long story short, I ended up with a title of "Drive-By Seasonings," a story about a motorcycle-riding Grandma who shows up unannounced to salvage last minute culinary disasters. I pictured a Thanksgiving meltdown worthy of a National Lampoon spin-off movie, saved by a "Mrs. Doubtfire meets Gordon Ramsey" character.

Bizarre, right? And it'll probably never in a million years be written to completion. But I never know, so I write it down. It doesn't hurt to write down your craziest ideas. One of them might be the one to hit it big. Or, years later when I look back over my scattered pages of random story ideas/notes, I'll just laugh and wonder what the hell I was thinking!


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