A week or so ago on my blog I reviewed Evensong, an awesome fantasy book by Krista Walsh. The basic plot is about an author getting transported into the fantasy world he’s created, and coming to grips with the fact he may not be as in charge of that world as he thought. It’s an excellent book scheduled to be released on February 10. I suggest you pick up a copy. It will brighten your Monday.
Anyhow, Evensong started me thinking about where a writer’s ideas come from. Where mine come from. It’s the age old question regarding the origins of creativity. Are we tapping past lives? Alternate realities? Alien transmissions?
Okay, that last one, maybe not so much. Just seeing if you’re still with me.
I tend to gravitate toward the flawed characters. Those with a touch of darkness, and ambiguous moral codes. My stories aren’t dark, per say. Not all of them. But they tend to lean more that way than towards fluffy bunnies and sparkly unicorns. Not that there’s anything wrong with bunnies and unicorns, they’re just not me. In my story, the bunny would be dinner, and the unicorn would likely harbor delusions of grandeur. But the question remains; am I drawing from bits of myself? Exploring the dark side of my psyche? Why is it I, or any other writer, gravitate toward a certain genre, character type, or theme?
Like every author, I’ve been asked why I write what I write, and where I come up my story ideas. My standard answer is a shrug, followed by something to the effect of, “It’s the voices in my head.” It’s a lame response, I’m aware, but it’s the best one I have. I honestly don’t know. Sure, certain things spark my imagination. There are images, songs, lines from poems, a certain character…but that’s just the match that lights the fire. What I wonder is where does all the wood come from to feed that fire.
If you believe in past lives or parallel universes, then perhaps the theory that creative types can tap into those worlds is plausible. That we’re not so much imagining events, but recording them as they happen. Krista Walsh touches on that idea in Evensong, I won’t take credit for it.
Maybe creation is just the result of a finely developed imagination and nothing more. We’re able to take a simple premise and ‘what if’ the daylights out of it. That’s how our brains work. Those voices in our heads, those characters running amuck until we tell their tale, are nothing more than a spark of brain neurons…synapsis…hey, I’m not a brain surgeon, give me a break. I think you know what I mean.
Or is there really a more mystical explanation? Are the muses something tangible? Do they choose certain people to be their conduits? Are the voices of the characters, the paths they wander, given to us by something beyond our comprehension?
*huge shrug* I have no answers. I still haven’t found my own. Have you found yours?
~ K. L. Schwengel