Posts Tagged With: Questions

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?


One of my favorite things in the world is to read what people who write for a career have to say about the writing process.  If anyone can explain it, they can.  My favorite subject is always the question “where do you get your ideas from?”  Anyone who has ever done any writing knows that this question is impossible to answer.  It doesn’t matter how amateur your actual writing is, your ideas always originate from the same place.  Sure, you can cobble something together about articles and prior influences.  But really, it’s like asking someone why they dreamed of popcorn last night.  Maybe it was the movie you watched before bed, but who really knows?

I hadn’t spent much time on Robin McKinley’s website until this week, and she has a great answer to that question.  You can read the whole thing here: but essentially she says that having ideas is like picking up pebbles in the dark and then picking up a puppy.  You know immediately that the thing in your hands is something else, and something rather more than what you’ve picked up previously.  The puppy is a story.  Like I said, I love this explanation.  It almost expresses how I get my ideas.

The problem is that, for me, it is not nearly as simple as this.  It is like fumbling around in the darkness picking up the pebbles of ideas, and then suddenly you grab a pair of furry legs, and a few velvet ears, a wagging tail then the warm, soft body.  Eventually, among all the other pebbles I’ve picked up at the same time, I realize that I can put this all together and it becomes a puppy.  But it doesn’t start out as a full puppy I pull from the dark.  I know I have something different, but it isn’t always clear what parts belong to what until I sit down and try to piece them all together.  And some things are only rather mossy rocks.  And sometimes I’ve pulled the parts for a puppy and the parts for a squirrel, and have to sort that out as well.  And sometimes there are more than two.  I’d say it’s like juggling, but that would be adding another metaphor into this already cobbled mix.

The last part of this whole problem is that I never know how much the puppy will grow.  I don’t really know what I have until I write it down.  Is it a Pug of a short story?  Is it a Newfoundland of a novel? Is it a viable, healthy dog or does it have kennel cough that will never be cured?  Do I have the skills to care for and feed this dog, or do I need to go and take some writing classes and learn what to feed it before attempting to put it on paper and give it a home?

Writing is such a nebulous thing.  That’s probably why people resort to metaphor and cliché to explain it.  There has to be something more concrete out there, though.  I’ll be searching for it until I find it but my guess is that I never will.  In the mean time, I suppose I offer (rather convoluted) metaphor myself.

Categories: Fiction, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Waffling on Test Questions


A friend of mine is trying to get certified as a counselor for the Meyers Briggs test, so I took an online thing today so I could go to a group session tomorrow.  It was very interesting, and I found that I fell in between the two options on the screen so often that it was SO HARD to pick one.  I wrote down the questions that I had trouble answering, and I thought I’d post them for fun:

Do you find keeping a schedule liberating or confining? – Here’s the thing, I don’t like keeping a schedule.  I definitely don’t like that I have to regulate my entire life by a book and a pen, and deadlines, or even charts and check boxes.  I hate that.  But has keeping a schedule been confining?  I really can’t say that it has.  It’s enabled me to keep track of things and meet deadlines.  It’s given me the ability to be productive when I otherwise wouldn’t be.  It’s really more a little of both.  I hate it, but I get a LOT of good from it.  Not the least of which is my novel that I’m very proud of.  I finally put confining but it didn’t feel like the truth, exactly.

When making a decision, is it more important to you to weight the facts or consider people’s opinions and feelings? – Facts are really important to me.  They are.  I think that every decision should be made based on facts and not on We Wish or We Hope.  But, facts have different weights depending on your feelings.  That should be taken into account.  For example, what if I’m looking to move to a new city?  I can look at ratings of best cities, but maybe “best” is based on number of bike paths.  If I hate to bike, that fact isn’t going to matter to me.  That shouldn’t be weighted equally with how much live theater a place has.  I care about that much more.  It’s both.  We need both to make a valid decision.  I waffled, and then finally picked opinions and feelings…

Do you rather prefer to do things at the last minute, or find doing things at the last minute hard on the nerves? – I LOVE chaos.  I love struggling, feeling that adrenaline rush and knowing that you’ve been the one to solve that last minute problem with aplomb.  It fills me with glee.  This is the reason I loved running the Electrical Parade costuming crew so much.  Disaster was imminent every night, and I often got to be the hero.  Still, if given the chance I’ll plan ahead.  I also like that satisfied feeling, that I’m competent and in control, to know that my tasks are finished and I can just enjoy (or be ready for the coming chaos).  90% of the time, I plan ahead and am ready for anything, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love a little last minute action.  I honestly don’t remember what I picked for this one, it was such a toss-up.


Among your friends, are you one of the last to hear what’s going on, or full of news about everybody? – This is a weird one for me.  I have a hard time keeping in touch with people.  Unless I interact with them on a daily basis, I’m always out of the loop.  I’m a terrible correspondent and I don’t answer my phone (ever).  This means that I’m usually behind the times on what’s happening in people’s lives.  But… acquaintances have this weird habit of telling me insanely personal details about themselves.  I like it because I get to be in the know, but I often find it strange how I end up being the confessor.  I straddle both divides.  I think I put down “last to hear,” because I usually am the last among my nearest and dearest.

Are you at your best when dealing with the unexpected, or when following a carefully worked out plan? – Oh man.  I’m better when I’m following a carefully worked out plan, and I enjoy working out careful plans.  That is the truth.  But I’m better than anyone I know at dealing with the unexpected.  Very little phases me.  The world could be burning down, and I’m like “thanks for the info, we’ll deal with it when we get there.”  Does talent for something give enough weight to claim it as best?  I was true to myself and put plan, but I still don’t know if it was the right choice.

So that’s it for the test.  On another note, there is a large group of people yelling outside my office as if they’re at a sporting event or something.  The ways of college students are mysterious (says the girl who graduated 6 months ago).

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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