Where do these ideas come from?

21 Dec

Where do these ideas come from?


When I first began my online writing studio, Writing Odds n’ Ends, or, Ramblings from the mind of L. Stewart Marsden, I had no idea where this road would take me, nor where the ideas would come from.

I started with the few poems I had already written: The Bone-Pickers, and All the Clocks Are Broken.

The first occurred as a result of going to the parceling out my parents’ worldly possessions. I wrote the poem mentally, scribing it with each painful leg of the process. Those of you who have gone through it know what I mean.

And of course, the clock poem is the quintessential commentary on how time seems to slow down when you don’t want it to, and vice-versa.

I also uploaded Stinky and the Night Mare, the paper adaptation of a story I made up in order to get my two daughters to sleep. It was one of several stories, that included Cathy the Fish, which came about with my two oldest when my son, Graham, was hospitalized with leukemia (Graham’s Story), and an ongoing saga that never was finished — The School of Hard Knocks — (clap your hands once) — Texas, a kind of Lemony Snicket-esk story about three children who were completely unmanageable, and who were shipped to Texas by their parents. You know, one of those stories with a moral.

Then I sat and waited. For hits. For likes. For any kind of recognition by the Wild Blue Yonder WordPress community. Like a faucet nearly — but not quite — closed, those hits and likes and comments slowly dripped and accumulated.

That was in November of 2011, the eleventh to be exact.

Since, I’ve posted about 250 or so poems, 89 short stories (actually there are less, but I’ve written several chapters in several short stories, and at least ONE of the stories is my granddaughter Jasmine’s work), and all kinds of commentary, a play, parts of two novels — one historic (I call them histrionic) and one a young adult). Most are finished in want of editing. Some are incomplete (my apologies to those who began the App Man series only to have it come to a standstill after 9 chapters. I am “cogitating” on the plot and how to bring it to a climax and a close).

Today I’ve received more than 19,000 hits on my studio. BFD.

Nearly 1,500 people are following my blog, but it’s hard to tell. The vast majority are not riveted by my posts. The sun comes up whether or not they read my latest post. I have no illusions.

I wondered at the beginning where the ideas would come from. In fact, I worried about it. I was in the process of a marital split, and figured my brain would be zombified by the experience.

Actually it was quite the opposite. To be sure, the strain of the separation and divorce provided the main gas for my writing engine. But, over time, I switched to solar, if you get the point.

In the spring of 2012 I participated in the annual April poem a day project. It was great discipline to sit down and force myself to write. Like the country song, some days were diamonds, but some days were stones. Even though I knew I wasn’t a good poet, I persisted. As with photography, I figured that if you write a lot of poems, one or two might actually be good.

Many ideas assaulted me in my sleep — awakening me and keeping me sleepless until dawn, when I finally was able to grab my iPad and write either the poem down, or begin the story.

I found myself not really caring if readers on WordPress liked my posts. Likes don’t do anything for the writer. It’s like a popularity contest. It’s the WHY someone likes or dislikes a piece that becomes the core concern for the writer. Hence, I don’t normally read something and hit the “like” link. I comment. I figure the writer will benefit one way or the other.

After three years being online, I’ve been surprised at the amount of output and the variety. I’m still unsure about my poetry, though I sense it maturing in quality. And, those damn eerie stories I write continue to backlog. I now have at least three — maybe more — ideas for short stories, although my short stories are becoming longer, as with The Pied Harpist of Nashville series. Fellow writer and now friend, Clara Bush, has suggested I start writing novellas, which is her forte. I recommend you reading her stuff, by the way.

So, again, where the hell does this stuff come from?

When I write a poem, it doesn’t take very long. Something grabs my attention — usually something very mundane — and it simmers until it comes to a boil, and I have to write it down. There are other digestive similes, but you can imagine them on your own time.

I’ve joined a couple of groups. One is an online poetry group on LinkedIn. A thousand members. VERY intimate group. (Sarcasm is the wick of inspiration). I’ve also been a part of a writer’s group — an hour trek — that proved not so helpful. And I’ve helped to organize a local writer’s group, which is a bit more satisfying because we’ve worked on a different approach to the writing group critique aspect (Google Hickory Writers’ Group).

Here’s the thing: the ideas come when you run the machine. It’s kind of a self-lubricating process that depends on you penning every day — or on a regular basis, at least. It’s also dependent on you becoming extremely aware of what’s going on around you, and grabbing hold of every moment, memory and opportunity to reflect and say something.

Hard work, it is, says Yoda.

Nothing comes easy. And all of the other stereotypical comments about how people end up doing and being and becoming.

Priming the pump.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then let’s begin with a simple assignment to get the juices flowing: today, observe something mundane (common) that happens during your day. It may be stepping out of a cab, or seeing some homeless person hock on the street. But take note of the common and mostly unobserved things that happen during your day — and write about it. Start with a paragraph. Or a line of verse. Anything.

And keep doing that.

Look at Matisse and Van Gogh — what did they capture on their canvasses but a moment in time? What did Ansel Adams do but frame a brief moment of nature in his viewfinder and press a button?

Do that.

In the everyday, mundane moments of life are the metaphors OF life.

That’s where the best ideas come from, I suspect. I challenge you to find me in error.

Leave a comment one way or the other. I hate “likes.”


10 Responses to “Where do these ideas come from?”

  1. InfiniteZip December 22, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    Fine, no like then😊 neice loved stinky but refused to let me take her pic ’cause her hair wasn’t done. On another note, I write this way, either from a dream inspiration or a thought that won’t leave my head…my word spew is generally short as I have the attention span of a gnat…do they have functioning brains? Hmm I wonder ….great post…I used to stare at the stats, now I just let it be and write for me….letting the words flow…but I do like this piece☺️👍

  2. Clara Bush December 23, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    I was reading your great post this morning, the day before Christmas Eve, as I wait for my little granddaughter to wake (by the way Stinky is wrapped and under the tree waiting for her), when I see my name. Thank you! What a thrill.

    Skip, I really like this post. You touch on many things I have experienced as a writer. So I’m reading and I say: Oh, yeah! I can relate. That makes this a great post. A post to which others can relate. I love reading your poetry and other works, but I can soulfully interact to a post such as this. Nice job. Hope to see more like this.

    She’s awake! Merry Christmas!

    • skipmars December 23, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      As my daughter Lily said, It’s Christmas Eve Eve! Thanks, Clara. Got time yesterday to look at your Africa videos and read some. As Bones would say, “I’m a WRITER, dammit! Not a _____________” fill in the blank. Nice! Hope yours is all you want it to be! S

  3. Outlier Babe December 25, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    I took devilish delight in tapping that “Like” button.

    I’m catching up on posts backward, and asked about your Sandcastle post and whether you’d published, but reading this remembered that weeks ago, read you just HAD–a Stinky book! So: Oops–sorry I’d forgotten. Now, as to keeping up with what you write:

    You are a gifted writer. But you know that. You write too damn much and often to keep up, because there are many, many gifted writers, and how the h#ll is a person supposed to keep up with everyone’s blogs, and have a non-virtual life, and ever do any writing of one’s own? So, a great proportion of your Followers may sincerely wish to read you more often, but sincerely not have the time. I work only four hours or less a day, and I don’t have the time.

    I hope that helps put your hits in perspective.

    • skipmars December 25, 2014 at 3:19 pm #

      Wasn’t complaining. ESPECIALLY not about you! I guess I write a lot because I don’t have a day job other than sitting in front of my computer to compose something. I have the luxury to do this, and realize most do not.

      I also feel it expedient to create — to leave my progeny and theirs a sense of who I was (when I take my exit) and how and what I thought of various subjects.

      It’s that urgency that probably gets in the way of truly good writing on my part. Like I said, I tend to be a sprinter, and not a long-distance kind of writer.

      I appreciate your comments! Thanks so much. 🙂

      • Outlier Babe December 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

        My goodness. Thank YOU for that “especially…” remark. I am blushing.

        And you are welcome so much.

  4. harry December 31, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    Very inspiring! I’ll learn to seek inspiration from the mundane 😀

    Am a huge fan of the ‘Like’ button, so writing this is a strange, strange sensation for me… I kinda like it! 😀 I’ll make it a point to comment more often. I realize it’s more intimate this way. 🙂

    Happy New Year!

    • skipmars December 31, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

      Yes, it is. And VERY much appreciated by whoever’s website you visit. Takes a little more time and effort. But as you pay it forward, it will return to you. I promise.

      • harry December 31, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

        Thank you. And Happy New Year to you! 🙂

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