Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ugly Mortal Hands

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about ideas and Ideas--yes there is a difference between the two. Allow me to explain. Though we writers are a varied breed, every one of us gets ideas. We all approach them differently. However, I've noticed two distinct attitudes emerge when it comes to the nature and origin.

1. ideas: a beginning, a groundwork, a start. These ideas come from our own feeble minds and therefore they are something to be worked, pulled, prodded, dyed, clipped, chopped, stretched, painted, mashed, scrubbed, kneaded, and otherwise put through the ringer.

2. Ideas: a flicker of something amazing. We, the writer, should close our eyes and wait, listen, learn. We may need to do some gentle exploring, but not too much. If you prod too much, the Idea will be tainted by your own ugly, mortal hands.

Remember, I am talking about the initial stages. Once that novel is written, then we are working with a flesh and blood draft. That's a different animal. Most of us view the draft as something to be worked, pulled, prodded, etc, etc, etc. What I'm talking about right now is that initial spark. The idea. . . the Idea.

What do you think? And dig deep here, because I know half of your are about to say, "It's both." In my mind, it can't really be both. With ideas, we need to spend a great deal of time with it, before it's worth writing a word. Yes, an aspect of that idea may sparkle and excite, but the rest must be developed with care. Ideas, however, are something that we shouldn't mess with until after it is contained in the body of a story.

I should put you at ease right now, this is not one of those frantic plea-for-help post of a conflicted mind that I'm rather prone to writing. No dilemma going on over here. I'm just intrigued by the dichotomy. What's your opinion?

12 comments:

JaneyV said...

I'm stunned. Nay! Amazed!

I have just very half-heartedly posted about something kinda-sorta a teensy bit similar. I'm having Ideas right now too. Just the sparks. The little fledgeling dreams that you dare not interfere with - you just have to observe and wait and see where they go. If there's something great there they light you up like fireworks and the energy that creates will hopefully take you to a place where that initial spark can grow organically into something tangible.

I wish I'd read your post first. I might have written something "more gooder"!

(Kiersten - that was an attempt at humour - just parodying my own lack of skills - for goodness sake can we get a medic here!)

Natalie said...

As a person who's had quite a lot of ideas...okay, enough ideas for 10 writers, I think I can say that every idea is different.

For the most part, they are the "tug and pull" variety for me. I get a premise and I start asking a lot of questions. It starts to come together.

But then sometimes...it's The Idea.

In my, uh, 20 or so ideas that I have made into books/plan to make into books, there have only been 2 that I consider an Idea.

Those two have come almost fully downloaded, so to speak, where I know the full arc of the story right off the bat, the main characters, and how it ends.

So while I think it is possible to have The Idea, they don't come around often. That doesn't make the other ideas bad—working on an idea can be much more rewarding than the one handed to you.

Renee Collins said...

Janey-I read your post right after I wrote mine, and I smiled at the similar themes too. :) And hey, your post was cool! Loved that crayon analogy.

Natalie-see, I'm not talking about "The Idea," I'm talking about the way we approach all ideas in general. And yes, everyone is different, but I think a writers overall notion of how to treat anyvand every idea falls into one of the two categories.

No matter what state of readiness the idea is in, some writers still put it through the ringer to try and make it better. Others, even if it's just the start of an idea will proceed forward with writing it, not wanting to ruin it be overthinking things.

See what I mean? I'm not talking about the quality of ideas that come. I'm talking about how writers see the animal that is an idea.

Natalie said...

Hmm, yeah, I guess I see what you're saying. I've done both on different projects. Actually, my Ideas are the ones I plot out more than the others...weird.

But in general, I guess I would fall into the "don't think, just write" category.

Jessie Oliveros said...

The Idea I'm trying to turn into a book now came several months ago, and I was initially afraid to touch it. Then, I think I did overthink it because it kind of ruined it for me...until I put enough distance between me and the Idea that all I remembered was the Idea and not all the little connected ideas that ruined it. Maybe that made sense only to me. But I get it.

Renee Collins said...

Natalie-Yeah, I guess you can approach different ideas differently. In fact, I've done that as well. I suppose it depends on the place you are at as a writer. (I swear, I'm not always trying to categorize writers . . . )

Jessie-I understand you perfectly. :) That's what happened with my very first novel. I mashed and smashed and chopped and painted it too much as I was writing the first draft and it morphed into something just plain bad.

Lady Glamis said...

I'm not sure I fully understand what you're getting, but it's been a rough week, so I'll blame it on that. All of these other intelligent comments prove it's me and not you.

I think I only work with Ideas, which is why I never have many "ideas" floating around for stories. I wait until an Idea comes, and I snatch it. This makes things easier since I don't have to worry about shiny little ideas taking me away from the Idea. Hmmm.

Miriam S.Forster said...

Um... I would probably say the first describes me more, but the reason is that one shiny amazing idea never seems to be enough for me. If I get one, I cup it carefully and save it until I get another shiny idea. Then I put the two together and see if they have a shiny baby idea, and that's what I write.

I'm working on being more hands off with the ideas but it's a slow process.

storyqueen said...

I get exactly what you are saying! Especially the part about the ugly, mortal hands. I, too, fear writing the idea too soon, forcing it and ruining it. But the opposite can happen. Wait too long and others get a similar idea.Then the *idea's* amazing originality fades and you'll be kicking yourself.

Ah, to find balance.....

candicekennington said...

My first book was an Idea! When I first started writing it I approached it with pure Idealism (haha). I was passionate in my writing I paid very little attention to rules or good form. From an artistic perspective it was entirely fulfilling! But then I realized that if I ever wanted others to read my work I needed to edit. So then I went to the other extreme and listened to EVERYONE'S advice. It almost completely destroyed my voice. *takes a deep breath* So now I'm struggling to find the balance.

I'm a very emotion driven writer, so I want to CREATE something not just write it, and I want to be inspired with THE IDEA, but I'm also realistic and know that won't happen with out working it out in an 'idea' sort of way.

Does that make sense??

Renee Collins said...

Michelle-That's definitely an interesting notion, only focus on the big ideas. I think I do the same thing to some extent.

Miriam-What an interesting and awesome idea to put two good concepts together and see what comes out! I'll have to try that.

Shelly-Yes, that thought plagues me! With so many writers out there, it's my great fear to one day read in Publishers Weekly that someone has beat me to publishing my book. :)

Candice-I know exactly what you are saying. Partly because I've been there. That was my first book too. I just messed with it too much. It's such a delicate tight rope to walk.

Patti said...

For the me all the little ideas sometimes build to the IDEA. Usually I act on the IDEA and it's such a great feeling when it all adds up.