There are gerbils in my mind. Not really, but that’s the only way that I can explain the words that escape the abyss of my brain. Instead of brainstorming sessions, my brain appears to hold gerbil raids. During these attacks, my mind goes on a creative rampage during which anything I see is fair game for a story, prompt, or photograph. These little diabolical critters seem to take in my surroundings like a caffeinated squirrel on steroids. My insane mental tangents result in normal, everyday occurrences evolving into something completely different. Amazingly, the products of my cognitive evolution tend to be sensible. The process of getting my writing to that point tends to be anything but.
The Process: “How the Heck Did I Get This?”
Stories: I don’t search or strain to find ideas to write a story. I let them come to me. I’ll watch a movie, read a book, or browse Google News until I find pieces that I can “Frankenstein” into a story. The different images, dialogue, and settings I use are heavily dependent upon my everyday encounters. While the surface of my stories are influenced by my daily life, the underlying plot is determined by elements of my personal life that connect to the tale. This practice enables me to become more invested in a character than if they were spontaneously birthed from a gerbil storm.
Instead of evil and angelic consciousnesses, my shoulders carry an evil and an angelic gerbil. Most of the stories I write do not have a clear or definitive end. I hate concluding a story. I want the characters to live on and have something after the last sentence. I don’t want to give one of my creations an inadequate end. The vile gerbil encourages me to leave more loose ends at the conclusion of my story than is typically acceptable. The cherubic gerbil pleads for me to tie up all loose ends with a sense of hope. Sadly, the demonic gerbil wins more than the seraph, and I leave the story in a moment of danger or despair.
Prompts: The gerbils never allow me to rest. Never. Most prompts are the result of a bombardment of random ideas in my sleep or daydreams. A peaceful walk in the woods can dissolve into an alien invasion in which a fish rescues the planet. This dream was heavily revised into the Redwood Forest Prompt. The Presidential Games Prompt was an exaggeration of a daydream in which the nation united to rid itself of Donald Trump.
After finding my subject matter, I decide if I want to create a story or a prompt. When writing a story, I try to include all of the details about the event. When writing a prompt, I outline some of the details in order to build the foundation of the story.
Photography: Images are a traditional element of storytelling. From cave drawings to imagery in a novel, the things we visually perceive have a great affect on the interpretation of a story. Slightly altering one piece of a photograph can result in a completely different narrative. Although photographs do not tell a whole story, they enhance it. A story describes the events that an author has formulated. A prompt allows another author to expand on the original idea put forth by a different author. A photograph provides additional information to the audience. A film based on a book can drastically alter our perception of a character. While the book gave the audience a mental image, the film provided the image of the character to the audience.
I start taking photographs without a clear focus on what I want to capture. I want my photos to be spontaneous and inspired by the moment. Somethings must be planned, but the variables that can be left undecided are. I avoid trapping myself in a set mentality of what the pictures will be. I just point, focus, and shoot.
I like to work with all three of these mediums. They allow me to creatively express my emotions and interactions with the world. I create and attempt to inspire others to create. I try to find new or interesting angles to examine things through so that I can contribute something.
It doesn’t matter where the inspiration came from, all that matters it who it came from. Whether it was your creature of enlightenment (my gerbils) or the evolution of an idea, if it was yours, it matters.
Inspiration attacks and leaves behind a creative scar. It leaves your mind with a consuming nature. The more you ignore it, the worse it gets. As it is disregarded, it begins to fester and annoy its future creator. It wants, no needs, attention and demands it from you. Then, when it is satisfied, you desire to repair it. You see the story and value it holds, so you tediously and lovingly revise your work until you are satisfied.
Adorable Gerbil Photograph
Kronk Animated Drawing
Elliott Erwitt Quote