The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Even Being Overworked Is No Excuse For A Lack Of Inspiration

Posted by BigWords on February 14, 2010

I’ve barely had time to do anything this week, yet I seem to be compiling notes for things I have yet to consider writing. Comparing a lack of actual writing to the dulling of a blade might be a touch too self-critical and analytical, yet there has to be something in the notion of the art of writing as comparable to cutting through… Something. I don’t hold to the conceit that there is anything particularly important about one suggested work over another (some ideas are terrible, but the state of the idea rarely matches the state of the finished piece), so trying to placate the inner editor with assurances that quality can arise from such loose affiliations of idea is an interesting and infuriating process.

The steampunk movement may have been around for a while, but I have never dared broach the subject with any real intent towards completing a full story; and yet everywhere I turn I seem to be given slight and obscure hints at the things I can attack on my own terms. Mechanical adaptations of digital technology is incredibly hard to make work, even in a fantasy setting, yet some real-world applications of theory have made me stop for a second and consider what could possibly be done – and this all started off thanks to an article on an expensive watch.

I received a forwarded a link to an old article on the De Grisogono Meccanico DG, which is a digital watch, inasmuch as it has a fascia which, on brief inspection, looks like any other watch, yet is composed entirely of clockwork innards. I love that the art of making it entirely mechanical has produced something truly steampunk, though the creators would probably disagree – it is art and technology hand in hand, moving towards new ways of thinking on function and appearance. The notion stuck with me for a couple of days, and when I later discovered a DVD nestled amongst my non-fiction collection which set out the history of radiation. I have to admit that I hadn’t watched the DVD since I bought it, but finding it again made me think back to the watch – no, I’m not sure why, before you ask.

The Victorians knew enough to make glow-in-the-dark items, and the numerals seem (somehow) to glow anyway. And everything looks better in brass and mahogany anyway, so the ideas bubbled away under the surface. Somehow, despite my self-awareness that time was not a luxury this past week, I had managed to cobble together the hint of a mirage of an idea. Coupled with a love of old films, the idea stretched to fit in the sewer sequence from The Third Man, a gag about The Turk (the chess-playing automaton controlled by a hidden grand master) and some strange concoction of Hartlepool monkey-hanging and The Island Of Dr. Moreau – it turns out that the monkey could talk, but because it was speaking in an African dialect…

Then, on Friday morning, I awoke with an idea about migraines, headaches, medical procedures and telepathy, bound together by loose strands of half-remembered technology articles and science programs. There was a much talked about game wherein the player uses their mind to control an on-screen icon (of some sort) a few years ago, and there have been irregular updates on the possibility of telepathy-via-technology over the years – though scientists rarely, if ever, use the word telepathy due to the non-scientific nature of the process. It’s been a while since I read William Gibson’s writing on the possible scenarios of future-tech, and I may have enough wiggle-room to untangle new and weirder aspects without stepping on anyone’s toes.

If only I had time to write at the moment, I would be in my element.

And here is where I’ll lay out why you can never predict when an idea (or several ideas) will come crashing into your mind – it all has to do with receptiveness. I was looking for an escape from the constant pressure of being where I was meant to be (and on time), remembering what has to be done, in what order things have to be done, even whom I am meant to discuss things with… All very dry and serious thoughts. The subconscious (where the primal stew of imagination bubbles away undeterred by the inconsequential matters – of vital importance to everyone else) has a pressure valve which prevents people’s heads exploding a-la Scanners. It relieves our frustration gained from the mundane by formulating the fantastic.

I carry a notebook with me at all times, for when I get a small insight into the fiction I have yet to craft.

Ah, but notebooks are analogue… The thoughts are, like most handwritten material, jumbled out-of-order and useless without context. I’ve yet to find a method which anticipated when the small ideas (such as those above) will arise, and I’ve taken to leaving blank pages between thoughts which are so obviously from different things – the notes on the watch, for example, are set apart from the notes on the SF story by a good twenty blank pages or so. Enough that, when I come across more details with which to play with, I’ll have plenty of room to explore them without nudging into another story’s notes.

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I know I haven’t updated the blog much lately, but I’ve been really busy. Add to that the fact that I left my laptop in the same room as a complete idiot at the beginning of the week, and thus had to fix it back to my liking, and you’ll see why I’m not exactly in the mood to spend time online. “Must try harder” is gonna be written on my gravestone at this rate.

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