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Barbara O'Connor

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09:38 am: Thoughts become books
I fell victim to the latest Oprah media hype by listening to that ridiculous fascinating book, The Secret. For the first thirty minutes, the author gushes in an excited British-accented whisper (with New Age Ravi Shankar-ish music in the background) about how you can have anything you want - the money of The Donald, the lips of Angelina Jolie, you name it - if you know THE SECRET. Okay, spoiler here. If you don't want to know what THE SECRET is, stop reading right here.

The secret, author whispers, is this: Thoughts become things.


Sorry. I just don't get it. I'm an aging hippie. I've done that cosmic-thinking-meditating-peace-love-and-rock-and-roll thing before. I was married to a man who had to consult the I Ching before he would commit to marriage. (Note: We are no longer married.)

But in one important way, I agree with THE SECRET - when it comes to writing. For me, a book starts as a teeny weeny little seed. And then I have to wait and wait and think and think and let that seed grow and swirl and simmer - before I am ready to sit down and write. (lsparkreader gave a great talk about this at last year's New England SCBWI conference.)

This is probably one of the most important stages of writing for me - the thinking part - particularly with regard to characters. I HATE doing character exercises - like listing what's in their backpacks or what their favorite color is. I just hate that. I never ever do that. BUT - I have to think about my characters so long that I know them thru and thru.

Sometimes this can be frustrating. I feel like I should be sitting down and starting the dern story - but I'm just not mentally ready. I was lamenting this stuff to my always-says-the-right-thing friend, Brian Lies, and he told me about an art school friend of his who refers to the stages of artistic creation as: The Sponge, The Egg, The Lightbulb, and The Paintbrush (that would be, collection, incubation, inspiration and execution). He assured me I should relax and recognize the importance of whatever stage I'm in. (I'm halfway between The Sponge and The Egg - I guess that would be The Spegg.)

So, what's my point here? Thoughts may not become Angelina Jolie lips for me - but they usually become books.

Thoughts Become Books.

Think about it.


[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
Fun post!

As someone who is semi-swept into the Secret thing (and wow you mean I can have Angelina's lips and do I get Brad too???), your perspective was a great burst of fresh air. Like you, I'll use the Secret for the writing, but I've got to accept the fact that I'll never have pouty lips without collagen implants.

And as a fellow aging hippie (whose boyfriend wore the 3rd eye pinned to his hooded monk's robe), I can appreciate your skepticism about the peace, love and mysticism.

And one more thing. I HATE doing character sketches, too! I just mull these characters over in my mind for many many days until we, like, connect, man. (whoops! a little Woodstock slang snuck its way in here).

Have a great day! (but remember, you've gotta visualize it first.) :-)

[User Picture]
Date:April 15th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC)
Thoughts Become Books.

Think about it.

It really is a breathtaking concept! It's kind of hard to get my husband to understand that staring out the window while dinner burns is part of the creative process, though.

And thank you for admitting about character exercises! I hate 'em! I find that when I've tried to do them, the results always feel arbitrary and forced. The only one I've found that has ever been helpful is when I'm having trouble understanding a secondary character, it's sometimes useful to rewrite the scene from that person's viewpoint or maybe do a journal entry in their voice, just to get a different perspective.
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