Friday, 4 October 2013

Wool Gathering (or How It's Impossible to Keep the Body Weighted Until I'm Ready)

I have a note book for fiction and blog ideas that I keep by my bed. When inspiration strikes, I write it down. I looked at the notebook earlier and decided that perhaps I should also always turn on the light. The last entry reads  "27 men FLOR gabled house". Or maybe that's "27 hen FLOB gabled house". Let's hope that wasn't the best-seller. I have no idea what it means.

When I'm awake, the best place to get ideas is in the shower. Many times, I rush dripping to the notebook to get the thing out of my head and onto the solid permanence of paper. I have long said the best writing invention for me would be a waterproof telepathy machine that would suck the ideas straight from my brain to the computer.

My ideas always have earlier origins; a comment or image secretly lodges in my brain and begins to ferment. Later, that thing will slowly surface. You know how a dead body rises from underwater in TV crime shows? Well, just like that. Very slowly, it bobs up, and then perhaps rolls over.  As it's floating and bobbing, I can see it clearly, but if I don't nab it quickly, it sinks, with only a faint burbling to show it ever existed.

If anyone is watching as I write these ideas down, it appears that I am one sandwich short of a picnic. Particularly if I happen to be talking out loud to myself about it. Only other writers understand; lay people are bewildered. Why is it so important? I can't answer, except to say it just is.

Writing processes are swirling in my head today because a guest lecturer talked about them at uni. Mary-Rose MacColl is a warm, funny writer who has written a wonderful book called In Falling Snow. She also writes many freelance columns in newspapers and magazines. I have become a fan.

She told some funny stories in that lecture. One was about her mum, who was a journalist with The Courier-Mail in the 1950s, and who met Enid Blyton when the author stopped briefly in Brisbane. When one of the other journalists asked Enid how she got her inspiration, she stared at him as if he had two heads.

"Why, Noddy tells me, of course".

Now, Mary-Rose calls the creative process "Listening to Noddy". She gave us all manner of practical insights into the inner life of an author, and how to hear that spark of inspiration when it fires.  I also SO wanted her beautiful fountain pen. If she had laid it on the desk near me, it would possibly have rolled it into my bag.

When I got home from uni, I was buzzing with interest in creativity and how artists capture and tame this beast. Google magic produced this TED video featuring Elizabeth Gilbert which beautifully sums up many of the issues. It's funny and charming and, even if you didn't like Eat, Pray, Love, I urge you to take a peek. It will help you to hear Noddy and understand what he's saying.

Just don't let anyone hear you answer him.

Mrs Catch

What helps your creativity? Any tips to pass on to the rest of us?


  1. I always did have a soft spot for Noddy...

  2. In my brood of 4 kiddos, I have one I call the "artist"..he loves music and writing and reading and he has what I also call the "artist emotional mind". He thinks with his emotions more than with his common times, not always. He works, and he's a great Dad and all the rest of normal stuff...but he has this different sense than his brothers who are not in the creative mode. I enjoyed Ms. Gilbert's insight..makes perfect sense and it's a shame more creative people can't come to understand the creative process in their lives. What wonderful things could be contributed to the world if they did!

    1. I don't have an 'artist yet (sniff...). The boys are sports mad and won't stay still for long enough. Am hoping one of the girls takes to painting or writing.


Sorry to re-instate moderation. Anonymous is back with his Ugg boots. We thought we got rid of him already, but no...