Monday, April 23, 2012


Sorry about my long absence. Most of that has been health reasons. Winter and spring even in San Francisco are seasons that get rough on my chronic conditions. I've been sleeping a lot, putting up with massive pain and also working on some art projects lately. I've been doing more art writing and art blogging without writing about writing because my fiction's been mostly on hold. Funny coincidence, because yesterday was the second time I painted a house recently. This was a paint-along with Johannes Vloothuis, noted Canadian landscape artist. He worked in oils very large, 16" x 20". I adapted it to pastels at 8" x 10" because I'm not someone who can stand at an easel. Most of the painting process, I was staring at the screen and my painting trying to keep up. Making artistic decisions to leave out this and that because I needed to scale it all down to my size and medium. I completely changed the architecture, not understanding his sketch. So the entrance is quite different and came up from the murky depths of my memory - of so many different Northern states, from a gated neighborhood in Minnesota to Westchester, New York.
When I posted it, my responses all had a consistent theme. "It looks like a fairy tale." "It's the cottage in the woods, comfort and warmth near the wild." "I can see gnomes and fairies there." That wasn't what I saw when I was painting it. Unlike the last time when I set out to do an illustration and came up with a Lovecraft story, the painting just happened and all my associations were nonverbal. It makes sense because art is right brained. Your right brain is the source of creativity. The well of inspiration, a place that's essentially wordless. Your left brain understands language, so using language creatively is like riding a bicycle. You need both sides. Nonetheless, after months of writing hiatus, a story idea did creep in. Obvious enough that everyone who saw the picture told me the story. It's like Spiderwyck, the place where the worlds wear thin and all the little legendary people hang out throwing parties in the kitchen or tribal wars in the attic. It's a good place for little people. I asked myself "Do the people in the house know all the other peoples that connect with it?" Sure they do. Yep, that read true. They get on well with them, the humans that own the house are gatekeepers and if some of the paranormals are human sized or magic can deal with scale differences, they may not even be pure humans. A touch of elven blood wouldn't hurt for a family like that. Talking about it with an artist friend, the idea hit me. Bank of America doesn't know that's a gateway between worlds or that the current owners are holding a peace with the supernatural. I read an article about a guy who didn't even have a mortgage getting foreclosed on and spending months and a fortune in lawyers fighting it when his house was paid up, he didn't actually borrow against it! That could happen to the Magic House and if it did, if they carried out the eviction - it wouldn't be that total an eviction. Instead with the gatekeepers gone and the gates left open, perhaps purposely, things would start to go nuts in the neighborhood. I can't imagine gatekeepers to the supernatural actually defaulting on a mortgage or needing one. They usually pay their bills with ancient gold, which in this day and age would mean selling a coin now and then to an antique dealer and depositing the money. But if there was even a minor bank error - whoops, there you go, house in foreclosure despite not having a mortgage on it. Any trouble sorting it out and they could actually get foreclosed on and have to move. That invites the squatters who aren't human and life gets interesting. So what do I do when I get an idea like that? Title of this entry: Ideafile. I set up a new file in my journal folder, titled Ideafile. This one was "Ideafile - Foreclosure." I describe everything I thought of for the idea and store it. Writing it out is a good start to remembering every detail. I'll probably copy out this entry and add it to the Ideafile, which I'll go back to every time the idea comes up again. They're not hard to search for - just search my computer for the keyword Ideafile. This way when I do make time to write and sit there wondering what to write, I have my choice of all the ideas that came along when something else was scheduled. That's when ideas come. Today I'm planning on going out to Golden Gate Park with a friend, not banging out the start of a new rough draft. But as long as I've created the Ideafile, I can come back to it again. This will eventually be written. I'm also working on some older ideas, sometimes they steep for years. My lost science fiction novel "Garden of Earthly Delights" is getting a new cast. I've been working on building new characters for it and reconstructing it. Not exactly outlining but making a lot of notes, getting ready to do it again better this time. The lost version stank, the new one will have the benefit of a lot more life experience than back when I first got the idea. So when you get ideas, don't just ignore them. This is where the ideas come from. They come up when you're doing something else, when you don't have time to stop and work on a novel or story, when you're trying to sleep or muzzily waking up. Get them down and develop a system for finding them easily. Then when the day comes that you do make time for your writing, you'll have some choices when the left brain takes the lead to put these stories into words.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rob, I wanted you to know that I enjoy reading your blog. I even started an idea file.

    One big problem, (though there are many) is how to come up with ideas. And I don't know why I thought I could remember them in my head. My short term memory isn't always what I'd like it to be. (I'm trying to be kind to my brain when I say that.)

    I had an idea while out walking and then I promptly forgot it. A couple months later I was reading a novel and my exact idea was in it. And this was a book written by a famous author. Ack!

    Thanks for writing a blog. Please keep it up.

    Warmly, Angela