Where do ideas come from?

It’s a question that has had me wondering for years. As an author I know ideas are what lies behind the Art. They are the core of my stories. When one of my characters does something it’s because of the cause and effect of ideas. It’s interesting in itself, but more than that, as I continue to search and improve myself in my art, this question becomes more important. If I can figure out the secret to where ideas comes from I will open a treasure chest of possibilities which will provide me with unlimited resources. Can you image that? It’s a tempting idea in itself. Exciting even.

So where do ideas come from and what are they? To start with I want to consider what I know.

We all have ideas and we all act on them, even if we end up taking no active action except to think or to ignore them. As human beings one of the differences between us and other animals is our ability to, not only have these innovative ideas, but also the passion to act on them. For example who was it that first thought about the possibilities of fire, or of the wheel? Did the first person actually take any action or just ponder the possibilities? Maybe they even communicated those ideas to another before they became a means for humanity to warm themselves, to cook, to build and to travel. Notice all the verbs? Our actions are born from ideas. They are important to understand. Ok that sounds about right, but still doesn’t address the issue – where do our ideas come from?

What else do I know? Some ideas are stronger than others. What determines whether an idea is motivational? What makes an idea take root and grow? The call to action depends on the depths to which our ideas inspire us. Inspiration is born from need, whether it’s a want to cure cancer because it personal, or whether it’s how can I help my team win its next game in sport? It’s subjective, it’s inspirational and it’s down to circumstance, the environment in which we live. That’s something helpful. There are external forces involved, it’s not all about inside us. Or should I say the perception of our external world set’s the environment for how fertile the ground on which the seeds of our ideas fall will be. If the first person to think about fire was warm, well fed and without fear what would they have made of its potential?

Intriguing. Hmmm. Ideas are subjective it seems. Limited by our perceptions, circumstance and abilities to see. Maybe you’ve heard of Aristotle’s cave. When one man leaves his world behind (the cave) explores new boundaries and when he returns no one can understand him as they have no frame of reference for his new insights, they have not travelled those paths and cannot see beyond their cave. Hmmm. It may be intriguing but I’m not sure I’m getting to the heart of this. I’ve only been able to say how ideas affect us, there’s still no clue about where they come from.

Let’s consider the mind, it’s taken that our thoughts come from our brains. So do these ideas come solely from inside ourselves? Are our ideas just random electrical impulses in our brains that form into something we can then see? What about divine inspiration or eureka moments? Are they just instances when certain things fall in the right slots inside our minds that we see particular circumstances in a different light? Is it all just us making sense out of the chaos of existence? That sounds like what I’ve always been told about creativity, but is it the full story? Is there more? There must be.

The mind works in two halves, apparently, the one side dealing with conscious thought and the other the subconscious. The subconscious works considerably faster than the conscious and each side influences the other in ways that are complex and are not always predictable. Is there a clue in this link between the conscious and the subconscious? Or are they just two methods of looking at the same thing? I’m not sure anyone knows enough about that to give the needed insights about ideas and where they come from.

So what else is there to know? As a species we can exchange ideas between ourselves by a whole number of different methods of communication, but what if an idea comes from beyond our own species thoughts? Is that even possible? Personally I believe anything is possible if we can only imagine how. So where does that leave me?

Stumped. I don’t know any answers.  But this idea has now taken a hold of me and I cannot let it go. So what’s next? Action. I am doing some research to find out if anyone else has discovered anything which will shed light on the question. And next month I will explore beyond my own cave and see what I can discover… At least it’s an idea for understanding what I need to know and more importantly – this is fun.

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Once Upon a Page

Firstly I would like to apologise for missing my deadline last month. I would like to say it was because I was away on a much needed family holiday, or that my right arm has been out of commission due to repetitive strain from writing too much in awkward positions, or that writing my latest story for the Everlasting Fantastical Adventures took most of my time and inspiration up, but no excuse is ample or totally correct. Let’s just say I had a sabbatical and am now back.
This month’s piece has turned into the start of a bigger story with part one below …
ONCE UPON A PAGE there were three animals who went on an urgent quest into a deep dark cave. Each one determined to find something they had lost that was very dear to them.

First was Henry, a snow white goose who had had his honk stolen during a flight through a winter storm by a mischievous wind spirit. He had chased the spirit but lost it in the thickest part of the blizzard. A goose without a honk is a sad thing, every time he tried to warn his flock when a stranger approached he looked silly and ended up in a flap. Since then the other geese laughed at him and, what was worse, he couldn’t honk back.

The second was Nicholas, a jovial orang-utan who had misplaced his laugh when eating his way through a field of peanuts. He had searched and searched, opening as many shells as he could, but his laughter was gone. Now when he told a joke all he could raise was a smile and he felt his world was dull without his belly laugh that could shake the trees.

Last was Hugo, a big black-haired rat who went to sleep on New Year’s Eve and woke up the next morning incomplete. It had been dark in the sewer that night and there had been a troop of young rats from the local University prowling around. It was true Hugo had eaten a stash of overripe plums he had found which made him woozy, but he had felt nothing else that night. He had woken up without his tail, a limb no self-respecting rat could do without. His balance, coordination and his dignity were beyond repair.

The three had met in a market place in the town of Everhope on the outskirts of Wishful County. The market was the home of a famous Sage. Each had come to ask about their dilemmas. The Sage had listened to all three animals. She had told them they must go to the mountain of Faith nestled on the edge of the world to find their answers and that all three must undertake this journey together.

Half way up the mountain was a cave. A deep and lonely place in which was hidden a magical chest. If they could unlock the chest then their wishes would be granted. Without any arguments they decided to follow the Sage’s instructions and set out that same afternoon. Three days and three nights they toiled through torturous weather across the wilds. Each finding out something about the others during the hard journey. Now they had arrived and were standing on the brink.

“So this is the place.” Hugo peered into the gloom. “Looks spooky to me …” he said doubtfully, “and I like damp dark places.”

“-”, honked Henry, or rather didn’t. He buffeted his wings and shook his neck from side to side.

“Hugo, I think the goose wants to tell us something.” Nicholas scratched his chin. They hadn’t found out Henry’s name as his honk was gone and he couldn’t write.

“No doubt.” Hugo shrugged. “ What is it, Goose?”

“-”. Henry said silently. His white face and beak beginning to turn red with anger. The Orang-utan and the Rat exchanged blank looks.

“Maybe we should play charades?” Nicholas suggested.

“We tried that already, remember?” Hugo shook his head too quickly and almost fell over. He really missed his tail.

“When we were crossing that stream and the goose tried to tell us something. It didn’t work, so he lost his temper and took off in a flap. Landed on the other side without a care. He was so upset he wouldn’t help either of us across. We got all wet and cold just because I laughed at his antics.”

“Well, you shouldn’t have.” Nicholas grimaced, his eyes flat and his wrinkly face looked all lopsided and wrong. “I’m sure he was only trying to help us.”

“We’ll never know.” Hugo sniggered, “unless we find that Chest of Wishes.” He liked to snigger. It was a very ratty thing to do and he found himself sniggering a lot more now than he did before he lost his tail. With a quick glance at the other two to make sure they would follow, Hugo stepped into the cave.

“Come on, Goose. You know Hugo doesn’t mean any harm. He’s just like any other rat.” Nicholas held one long arm out to the bird.

“No I’m not!” Hugo snapped over his shoulder, but he didn’t stop to argue. He did not dare to turn in case he fell over. Henry flapped once and then gentle pressed his wingtip into the offered hand of Nicholas. Together they followed the rat into the gloom.
To be continued…

Spring in the Air

The sun gleamed bright as a diamond. The light spears reflecting all the colours of spring from the water droplets around my wrist. I was warm at last, after months of frozen isolation I was bubbling with joy. I stretched out further and touched a stick. It had fallen from a nearby tree, a silver birch and its bark was like a wrapping of the precious metal, smooth and glistening. I held it firmly in my grasp, feeling its strength. It would make a good staff for me to use.
I looked deeper into my too familiar glade searching for something different, something new. But my world was one which had not changed for more time than I cared to think about. Bathed in spring sunlight the trees and bushes glowed with awakening life. Buds of fresh green leaves bursting slowly from their winter sleep. Insects were busying themselves in the search for food. The same scenes replayed every year and my heart trembled with my need for something … more. I wanted adventure.
I remembered my life before when I had soared through the skies and raced other girls of my kind over high mountains and vast forests. Those days had seemed like they would never end and yet, here I was in this tiny corner of the woods which had become my world, except for those memories, or were they dreams? It was so hard to tell any more. I felt trapped and unsure. I needed to get out of here.
The bushes rustled and my attention focussed back to the present. A young male dear stepped nervously into the sunlight. The white spots on his back announcing his tender years. I wondered where his mother was. This youngster was too new to the world to be without his parents.
“Don’t be afraid. Take a drink. You’ll feel better and I will watch out for you.” I assured him and tentatively he stepped nearer and lowered his head to drink.
I laughed. A tinkling sound which caused his ears to start up, but he kept on drinking.
“See, that’s much better, isn’t it?” I murmured soothingly and his ears relaxed their guard. “Where’s your parents?” I wondered aloud.
“I don’t know.” His hide shivered. A rippling spasm of uncertainly and fear. “Thanks for the water.”
“You are welcome.” I gripped the stick and stood up tall.
The young dear startled, jumping clear of the pool’s edge and landed quivering several feet from me. His milky eyes bulging and unsure.
“Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you.”
The fawn didn’t move and I reached out my hand towards him. I felt his breath rush in and out quickly as he took my scent. I tickled the end of his nose and it gleamed wetly.
“See … I mean you no harm.” I laughed. A thought pushed its way into my mind. Maybe this young dear could help me and I could help him. “Would you like me to help you find your parents?”
“Yes, I’d like that,” The fawn licked his wet nose and smiled, “but how could you?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. The fawn’s question seemed ridiculous.
“Well, you are made of water so how could you leave this spring?”

This month I have added another column to the list and included a theme category.

Die Rolls Characters Traits Conflict Location Object  Theme
1 Maiden Prone Conquest Hills Weapon Comedy
2 Animal Forceful Illness Cavern Treasure Love
3 Spirit Hyper Dark Agent Ocean Bed Mystery
4 Fantastical Talkative New World Waterfall Stick Fantasy
5 Girl Athletic Self-doubt Spring Bread History
6 Boy Adventurer Disability Plains Chicken Tragedy


For March’s efforts we will have …

                Character = Animal

                Trait = Talkative

               Conflict = Disability

               Location = Cavern

              Object = Treasure

Theme = Comedy

What will emerge?

A Journey’s End

Everything felt bone dry. The sand under my feet, the scorching air around me and, most especially, the skull watching me from the top of the dune. This was why I was here. It had taken too many arid days to locate. Now it was almost within my reach… yet still a world away. I was tired, so very tired, I wasn’t sure I had the strength, or the heart left to finish this.

The sun flamed on, red-hot, merciless. The sand became a sea of glass beneath my worn out shoes. My long years hung on my frame like shackles, each step harder, more painful. I felt ancient, every joint aching deep into my shrinking marrow.

I had always been a curious soul, questing from place to place. Thinking back, it was my curiosity which had caused me all this trouble. If I hadn’t wanted to cross the desert, I wouldn’t have had my world ripped apart.

They said no one crossed the desert, it couldn’t be done. No…worse, it shouldn’t be done. Folk like us, just don’t do that sort of thing. It’s too dangerous and our bones don’t travel well. I didn’t argue, just up and walked out one night, without telling a soul.

I had been fine under my hat, until the vulture. Its brim had shielded me from the worst of the sun during the festering days. But the scavenger had swooped and now it was gone. Without my hat I knew I’d turn to dust in this remorseless oven. Maybe they had been right, maybe I should never have crossed the desert.

Stumbling, I persisted. Finally reaching the beach. Now my curiosity came down to this one last thing. The answer to my ultimate question which I hoped would make me complete.

I paused, wiping my ribs. I had long since stopped sweating, there was no moisture left, not for years. It was as if I had shed most of my skin. My chest hair was brittle, like withered grass. A gentle zephyr crackled my hair. The tang of the sea taunting me. All that water out there and yet I knew I couldn’t drink a drop. My eternal thirst would never be quenched by seawater.

The skull’s eyes were deep shadows, impassive, without compassion. There was no emotion inside, only logic. Cool and calculating.

I stretched my fingers up, grasping the skull. It felt light and airy.

I raised it high above me.

With a sigh I lowered the skull.

A shudder rattled my bones as life raced through me again. With a laugh of delight I moved my head from side to the side testing my neck. It was a perfect fit. I was whole again.

Now all I had to do was find my hat …

And for next month’s piece we have

                Characters = Hairy and Fit,

                Traits = Kind and Greedy,

               Conflict = Love,

               Location = Ocean,

              Objects = Ruby and Vehicle,

I wonder what will come to me?           Anyone else want a shot?

Like climbing a mountain

I was puffing up the Hill of Fire (Tinto in Lanarkshire) the other day when it struck me that writing a book is a lot like climbing a mountain. The day was quite a changeable one so it wasn’t such a stroll in the park.

There is the view from the base of the impressive task in front of me, scary to consider the climb, but awesome in its potential majesty. Image looking down from the top, the world will look quite a different place. That sense of achievement, the view. How many others have managed this. I am not the first, only the first today, under these conditions.

I have planned things and am equipped for the journey. Foot-ware, clothes, refreshments, water. I have done my homework and am ready for the task.

How do I start? Well, one foot in front of the other. Setting small goals to break down the overall task into manageable pieces. Picking out a route that suits my abilities and time.

Each step achieved is rewarding. Breaks are required and its fun to look back down the slope to see how far I’ve come. I can make good progress in the early stages and it looks like I am progressing fine. From the start, the top of the mountain is  lost from sight and becomes only a memory, a distant goal to focus on. I know its there, even if I don’t see it clearly.

But then the elements hit me. Its not all just a series of steps after all. There’s the weather, unexpected gusts of wind and rain, or more extreme circumstances that imped our journey. It takes a stronger and stronger will to keep going.

Ahead appears another ridge, the climb gets stepper and I persevere. On the top of the ridge I pause and look back. There’s my starting point, a long way away. I think I know how many ridges and how much time I need to take to finish the task, but I am not really sure any more, the lay of the land looks different up close. The cloud comes in and the going gets very tough. Its hard to make progress when I can only see a little way.

Another steep ridge and surely this must be the last. But no. Beyond is yet an even steeper climb.

Then the rain starts hard. Pelting down, driven by wicked gusts that snatch at my clothes. Many would turn back. its all just too much but I keep going. Stubborn, mule-like, refusing to give up. I know it’ll be fine in the end. But boy it would be easier without the wind and the rain.

A bright patch lights up the scene and I am heartened. My strength and sense of purpose renewed.

But a roaring sound grows and as I top the next ridge there’s a river washing away the path. Life’s curve-balls, Murphy’s Law, those gremlins and trolls sent by Loki and other such deities to cause me mischief. Somehow I find a way through, round, over.

I am now drenched. Wringing, tired and still I cannot see the top clearly. Only the feet moving one in front of the other keep me going. If I stop now, if I sit down, I might never get back up.

With a surge of willpower I march on. The rain eases and now its just mist, cold and eerie. A pervading dampness that fills my world with shadows and doubts. Am I still on the right path? What else is up here? A sudden movement off to my right  startles me, but its only a sheep.

Another ridge is topped and the path leads on. Sodden gravel slips under my boots and my muscle ache. I have to keep climbing. Its not about anything else now, but the conquering.

And there it is. The top. The mists lift as I break through the cloud. The wind is fresher, cleaner and more invigorating. Its only a short way now and the cairn is clear to see. My pace picks up and I rush the last steps.

Standing at the peak I spread my arms wide. The wind is unrestricted and wild. The energy I feel electrifying. As if by magic the cloud below me moves away and the sunlight illuminates the panorama around me and what a view. The struggle and ache to make the climb are but a distant feeling. I have made it.

Tinto done, now I must get on writing my stories.

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Memories as muses

My memories of my childhood in Malta are still precious to me, even if it was the other end of my life. We lived in Malta for three years back in the sixties. The world felt different then, but the eternal qualities of the island were easy to see, especially for one so young.

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The spectacular fireworks of Valletta are amongst my fondest memories. Evenings full of magic and surprise without needing to leave our home. You see we had a grand stand view from our flat as we lived in Sliema and Valletta harbour, with the city’s majestic walls and bastions, was our backdrop. I can still recall the feelings of excitement and joy as the star-filled summer skies were brightened with the colourful explosions which went on for what seemed like forever.

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The history of Malta is abundant with heroic stories and tales of knights. The island saw many different civilisations and influences over the centuries, from the neolithic people before the Romans and Carthaginians came. After the collapse of the Roman Empire the Arabs and Byzantines fought over the Island until the Normans took the island. Since then its government has been influenced by France, Spain and Britain. Now its independent from outside rule, though it did join the EU. But that was after our time on the island. With all this history the island saw a lot of castles and temples built and we often toured these, filling my head full of daring deeds and heroic adventure.

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The beaches and rocky shorelines were a constant source of fun. My brothers and I enjoyed chasing crabs and lizards in the pools and rocks. Sometimes we even went out on a boat and swam out in the Mediterranean. I used to daydream about adventures at sea (maybe these thoughts are one of the reasons I spent much of my life at sea).

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Then there are the catacombs, rumoured to run from one end of the island to the other before they were sealed up. Legend has it they may contain strange creatures and were used in neolithic religious ceremonies by the island’s previous inhabitants. Their look and smell still hang in my mind and I often wonder about the secrets they are hiding, secrets only children can reveal.

 

These memories of Malta and Gozo islands have inspired my creativity for my forthcoming series under the working title, The Everlasting Fantastical Adventures. From the warmth of the Inland Sea to the magic of the Azure Window, my thoughts delve deep and enter the catacombs then soar high into the air to explode as fantastical fireworks.

 

When people ask me if I have any problems thinking about new worlds and adventures, I just smile and say I am lucky, I don’t have that problem. I have the memories of Malta as some of my muses.

 

As the newest author to Link our pages I would like to introduce:

Nomanono Isaacs  who has authored the book – Escaping Apartheid – A Letter to My Mother

Check out her website at:  http://www.nomanono.com/

 
Testimonial:

From Roseanne May:

I was heartbroken, not just from romance but from the deep emotional wounds of life. Nomanono Isaacs offered vital support in my own need to understand and undertake a healing journey. In essence she was a loving, caring mentor who was willing and able to navigate alongside me. Nomanono guided me to the value and worth of my own inner self.Without fear of judgement or rejection, I was able to show and tell who I was, and reveal my emotional responses to life. Nomanono gave me wise and loving and honest counsel her sound advice came only from ‘a loving yourself’ place. In so doing, I found the strength to change what wasn’t working for me. It will be a dynamic, healing relationship with Nomanono, ever-changing ever growing, best of all there may be tears but there will be laughter too.