Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fat, Weird Ideas

I found this video a few nights ago. In it, David Lynch speaks about finding ideas, about having the patience to go deep, beyond the shallow little easy-catch inspirations, until you find something weird and ur-ish:

I've always been impatient with creative projects. It's a problem if the idea requires special equipment or knowledge. Sarah and I went to an amateur film festival a few months ago, and we left electric with desire to make a five-minute masterpiece, but our camera was the one on my phone, and the sun went down early, and, well, we know nothing of making films and the last time I acted in anything was--nine years ago.

If the idea just requires written words it's easy, of course, everything is at hand, keyboard, coffee, gin, whatever. The challenge then is to hold off beginning the project until it's come together fully in the mind, without waiting so long that it's dulled and rotted and died somewhere up there.

I'm 141 stories into my story every day project, and, looking back, I can see that the best pieces are ones that are fresh in their construction but that are built on foundations that already existed somewhere in the maintenance corridors of my brain. The challenge in writing a flash piece daily, then, hasn't been in creating new stories but in creating new stories that connect to deeper currents, to make not new narratives but to look at an older narrative from a new angle.

So what do you think about letting projects develop? How long do you wait before beginning something? Do you wait at all? How do you know it's time to start? Is it possible to let a long project--a novel, for example--simmer for so long that you hold the entire fundamental structure in mind before you start, or will there always be a moment when you look back over the last 20,000 words and realize something needs to be changed, added, cut?

1 comment:

  1. I have trouble with this too, which is why I write and fail at all my other cool art ideas. I don't like taking the time necessary to draw, learn an instrument, etc.

    With novels or stories they will hang around in my head for months or years (no doubt often disappearing entirely) until something clicks into place about how the language should work or another element of the plot or characters or I just sit down and try anyway. Sometimes it will feel like I have the whole thing worked out but until I write it I never really have anything worked out; one of the central conceits of my thesis came about because I needed an interesting sentence, basically. And that usually works best for me. Just needing a sentence to do a thing, fulfilling that requirement, letting that do what it does.