We talk a lot about revising a manuscript, but what about beginning? Not the hook of the first line, mind you, but what to work on. The idea.
I am between books. I can work on anything. So, the process of beginning begins again. Usually I start the new by sifting through the old. I go through my journals of words and sketches to see if there is anything in there that I may have overlooked—anything I did while I wasn’t really thinking. Usually it is in these sketchbook/journals where I find my best work—a doodle, a word here and there. I may look at it from a slightly new place in life and find the connection that will make it zing. I even go through old, old, old work—stuff I did in pre-school when I was truly uninhibited (as seen in the attached images. Just to show you what I can REALLY do.)
Sometimes it really does seem as though all we ever need to know we learned between the ages of 2-12—especially when it comes to creativity. All of our beginnings and inspirations came so easily then. Don’t get me wrong—I am not saying that ideas come from my childhood, rather they come from the old mixed with the new, combined with a heavy dose of imagination, assembled into something logical but just as fresh.
A common question for authors is: Where do ideas come from? As if that is some well-kept secret that we writers have the answer to, maybe we don’t even know. This is my simple answer: Ideas come from other ideas. Ideas come while I am working. I may be writing a blog entry, a letter, doodling at a lecture, and I combine one or two of these incongruous elements into an idea I want to work on further. I try it. I see. I try something else. And the one that grabs me will come eventually. The world is chock full of ideas, they are all around you right now. Work begets work.
Loved the examples of early Lisa. Thank you. And I echo "work begats work." I came across a file cabinet folder marked "Ideas" not long ago. It was empty. It was a folder I made long ago, and I've written a few novels since then, so I know I came up with ideas, but I guess they didn't make it into the folder. "Work begats work" describes the process in the muddy middle too. I'm in the middle of a first draft and I keep thinking the end is in sight but the more I write the more stuff keeps popping up.
And I am in the final stages of revision and my brain hurts. Can't wait to start something fresh. Seems like one stage always seems easier than another. I too loved seeing Lisa's sketches. They make me smile. Today the Olympic athletes return home and they too start again. They decide to commit to four more years of training or to search out a new life. Their bodies will eventually make that decision for them. But we can write even with bad knees and stiff necks. I hope to be writing until the day I die, old ideas and new ones. How about you?
I adore this topic. I'm been rewriting for so long that i can't seem to remember where my ideas sprung from…but I hope someday soon to have to wrestle this concept. In the meanwhile, I love your early examples but it fills me with the dread of being a parent to wonderfully creative children. The big question…what to KEEP!!!!!!!? Then again, maybe there's a book in that idea.
Molly, when I was little my mother gave us standard size paper to draw/paint on (two sizes actually– one 9 x 12, and the other 18 x 20) then she put them in these nice portfolios. I have several volumes (Lisa ages 1-3/Lisa ages 3-5 and so on) now in my collection. I love my mother to no end for doing this!! I also for some strange reason started collecting and keeping my own work in files at an early age–the stuff my mother never knew about.
My advice: keep your daughters work the best way you can!
What fun! My mom gave me a folder of writings that she had saved from my youth. I've shared it with kids on school visits, but hadn't thought about using it to spark new ideas. I am surprised about the power of what I wrote down in those early stories. They aren't artful, but do pack layers of meaning into a few words.
Molly, I dump everything from my son's backpack (and things created at home) into a box by the backdoor. Then I sort through it twice a year. Seeing the bulk of material together lets the pieces that have the most spark stand out. I've also heard of people taking digital pictures as a way to preserve children's creative work.
I came from a family that saved practically nothing so I veer between not wanting to hold on to anything and wanting to save everything. I have been saving bits and pieces over the years. I know I'll have to invest in a portfolio or a flat file soon. But I come away inspired by the imagination. Hat's off to you Lisa!
Now I want to go through the piles of papers I saved for my kids.
Lisa, I like the alien playing with the lipstick best. Although the thumbprint circus is pretty darn interesting, too.
I love that from the beginning Lisa was doing both PB and YA.