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Where Do You Come Up With This Stuff? – Guest Post

Posted by on Dec 3, 2011
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Most of you know that Mitchell Allen of Morpho Designs and I are pretty good friends. We play email chess together and work on encouraging each other to do great things. He’s also one of the most creative writers I know. I’ll admit that I may not always understand it, but it challenges me, which doesn’t happen all that often. I asked him to write this guest post on his thinking process and, well, how he comes up with his stuff; this is his response.

I often get asked this question when I post a piece of fiction. I love answering the question because, over the years, I can see how my answers evolve. I take more credit for the process than I used to. Yet, I’m quick to acknowledge that elusive spark when I’m at a loss to explain where that stuff came from.

ENGINEER OR ARTIST?

The first time I answered this question, I was the one who asked. I’m introspective like that. So I sat down, a man beside himself, and worked out this whole left-brain, right-brain dichotomy. A conversation sprang up between Elbe and Arby (get it?) Elbe was all analytical, while Arby simply tried to keep the words flowing gracefully. When the two had shut up, I was satisfied with the result. Elbe the Engineer and Arby the Artist had carved up my poor brain and staked their claims to the creation process.

If I am asked today, it’s likely to be from the writer folks at CreativeCopyChallenge.com. Twice a week, we write stuff, based on a list of ten word prompts. In this instance, the whole idea of a creative spark seems to be more relevant.

I have written entries on that site that leave me shaking my head. Other times, I have been in conscious creation mode, as when I wrote the chapters of Sisterhood of the Void, a science fiction story. When my writing buddies ask me the question, I usually tell them which word set off the chain-reaction.

MUSES

To be honest, I misappropriated the nine ladies of the arts. I didn’t know I was supposed to invoke them before setting my pen to paper. I just thought it was cool how writers personified the essence of their creative force. So, I name-dropped them collectively. I made up assignments for them, such as tending to the seeds of creative ideas. In general, I pawned off much of the credit for my ideas to these mythical mistresses.

Let’s be clear, I’m being metaphorical. There are a lot of crazy people in my head, but they’re all real! They talk to me every day and, none of them is named Thalia.

MAGIC

In truth, I don’t think most people really care where anyone gets their ideas. We’ve all seen enough mind-blowing brilliance from writers that we know the answer is simple. It is magic. And, just as the magician chooses not to reveal the secrets of the guild, we writers shouldn’t work too hard to analyze our mental sausage factories. Rather, we should invoke a few juicy images, roll them around in dirt and hold them up for a quick peek before putting the whole mess into our carryalls.

The next time someone asks me where I come up with my ideas, I’m going to assume the real statement is one of wonderment: “How did you do that?”

BEHIND THE CURTAIN

There are some people who really, really want to know. If that’s you, I’ll let Elbe and Arby take over. One or the other character is always spouting off on my blog.

You can read the result of the conversation between Elbe and Arby on my 2008 Father’s Day Introspective.

Elbe gets jiggy with it, expounding on the use of allegory to understand stuff.

Arby dreamily replies, telling Elbe that he should loosen up and just let things go.

And, when I can’t take their bickering any longer my head explodes.

A final thought: when Elbe dominates, I write poetry, because Elbe is obsessed with meter. When Arby is ascendant, I kick out some vignettes. When all three of us are humming, we work on science fiction stories.

Bio

“I had to choose between being the funny dad or the creative dad.

However, when I stepped into the plasma, I tripped over a roller skate.

The result was a mad scientist who cackles a lot.”

You’ll see this quirky bio all over the web. I like to have fun. If you like to have fun, too, check out my Virtual Dinner Party and other goodies.
 

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26 Comments »

Yeah Mitch (M), Mitch A is definitely one of the most creative people I know, too!

Mitch (A), sometimes the stuff you come up with really pushes me to the limit, man, but struggling to unravel the puzzles you make are pretty good fun.

Hey, when are those Ostriches coming back??

Also, why does the Creative Copy Challenge have a strike through it?

I think we should talk about the marketing of our various stories (amazon, etc). I’m going through a “book tour” now and I’d love to pic your brain about it!

All the best in the future!
John Garrett recently posted…My Favorite Fantasy Stories: Lloyd AlexanderMy Profile

Mitchell Allen Reply:

Hey John, I’m glad you like my puzzles, because there are going to be more :) (I’ve been goofing around on Sporcle.com)

Let’s talk, for sure! Where can we find your tour? Is it one of those deals where you are interviewed on lots of different blogs?

Cheers,

Mitch

John Garrett Reply:

Hey Mitch! yeah it’s one of those interview/guest post on different blog deals. I won’t spam Mitch’s blog with the link, but it’s in my sidebar on my site.

I’ll email you because I’m going to write up a post about this once it’s finished (it ends Dec 28th) and I’d like to know what you think, especially from the writing standpoint!
John Garrett recently posted…My Favorite Fantasy Stories: Lloyd AlexanderMy Profile

Mitchell Allen Reply:

John, that is awesome! I followed one writer’s “tour” and it was fun to get so many tidbits about the book and the author.

I’ll check out the sidebar and keep an eye out for the email.

Congratulations!

Cheers,

Mitch
Mitchell Allen recently posted…Scrabble Sunday – Breaking Your VowelsMy Profile

December 3rd, 2011 | 11:23 AM

OK, firstly I want to say to Mitch who wrote the intro, the first sentence is flawed . Do you see the error :D

Now to Mitchell, it’s been awhile mate since I’ve visited your blog and I’m sure I’m the worse for it. No excuse really I’m just slack that way. Truth be told I love your blog and I should make more of an effort.

Magic, yeah, that’s the word I would use to describe some of your posts and I’m about to avail myself of some of that magic right now.
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Mitchell Allen Reply:

Howdy, Sire! No need to apologize – check it out: 24 hours, 1 you, 2 bazillion blogs. I get that. I try to get around when I can, as well.

I’m glad you do like my blog. That makes me one in a bazillion! LOL. See you soon!

Cheers,

Mitch

Sire Reply:

I couldn’t have said it better myself Mitchell ;)
Sire recently posted…Review Of Lottery Pro PlayerMy Profile

Mitch Mitchell Reply:

Yeah, I saw it; sigh. lol

December 3rd, 2011 | 6:51 PM

This is great Mitch, when there’s many Mitch, something better gonna come out of the relationship. Mitch A is a nice and interesting person. He’s been to my blog as well and expecting to have him featured there soon as time goes on. Thanks Mitch for this post :)
Olawale Daniel recently posted…List of Top Dofollow Forums That Accepts Dofollow Signatures – Latest Updated ListsMy Profile

Mitchell Allen Reply:

Hi Olawale,

Nice to see you here. I appreciate your kind words. You’re doing a good thing, making those DoFollow resources. I’ve bookmarked the page for future reference.

Cheers,

Mitch

December 3rd, 2011 | 7:30 PM

Nice one Mitchell. Very inspiring guest post and good thought and points to think about, as well as few resources that didn’t know about like Creative Copy Challenge. About the last paragraph, quite similar with me, in the first days when my son was born, I think all of my colleagues notice a slight difference in me, but since that day, I think I’ve changed for good and become more creative.
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Mitchell Allen Reply:

Carl, children are a big part of the magic. When they’re little and non-judgmental, ah…those were the days :)

Creative Copy Challenge is a fun place to hang out. Hope you decide to come by!

Cheers,

Mitch

Carl Reply:

Absolutely, Mitch! Well, I wish my son will grow up faster and start helping me with business soon.

Definitely I will give a try of this website, many things to learn as I am not native English.
Cheer,
Kal

Mitchell Allen Reply:

Heh, getting your son to work with you would be some serious magic!

I hope you pop in today to CCC – tell ‘em Mitch sent ya!

Cheers,

Mitch
Mitchell Allen recently posted…Scrabble Sunday – Breaking Your VowelsMy Profile

Carl Reply:

Well, I hope one day he will, I forget to mention, he is just 2 years old, haha.

December 3rd, 2011 | 8:10 PM

This is just beautiful. I felt like I was in a sea of right brain creativity, which is by far my favorite place to be.
The idea of not truly understanding where it is that we get our flow from but just going with it, is such a freedom high.
Often times I find myself disliking some of the tasks that bloggers are required to perform simply because they require so much of our left brain.
The moment I feel the most joy is when I’m reading, writing and creating totally based on inspiration.
All the best,
Eren
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Mitchell Allen Reply:

Eren, thanks so much for your lovely words. I know exactly how you feel – which is why I rebelled on the blog rules :)

That’s a whole ‘nother story – maybe Olawale might want to talk about it. LOL

The right brain is the real final frontier!

Cheers,

Mitch
Mitchell Allen recently posted…Scrabble Sunday – Breaking Your VowelsMy Profile

December 4th, 2011 | 4:43 PM

Wow, what a treat, I sincerely mean that Mitchell. It’s been a hectic weekend and I wanted to stop by and see what my buddy Mitch has been up to this weekend before I turned in. I’m glad I did.

As bloggers, we secretly think of ourselves as writers. Yeah. I’ll admit it. I visit dozens of blogs each week and they are my peers, and often they are my friends. I enjoy reading their work and learn a lot for it.

Not often do I get the chance to sit back and really enjoy witnessing the true craft of writing like this. It’s truly a pleasure.

I don’t wonder where you come up with what you write, I’m just amazed when I see someone that is able to communicate the message so artfully. I write about blogging and it’s my way of teaching other bloggers. Your writing is an art form, one that I could always strive for but never achieve; just as I couldn’t paint a beautiful portrait or play with the New York Philharmonic.

One thing I do get from reading your work though; it makes me want to tell a story even when blogging. We’ll see how that goes. Thank you.
Brian D. Hawkins recently posted…Blogging Rounds – Best Of Week 11/48My Profile

Mitchell Allen Reply:

Hey, there Brian! Thanks for your insights. When you put creative writing in the same realm as the New York Philharmonic, you put people like me in the uncomfortable position of either accepting or rejecting the notion. To do the former would be the height of arrogance yet to do the latter would be to dismiss the whole essence of creativity.

I asked Elbe what he thought of it and he temporized:

“Brian, by putting more than two coherent words together in your comment, you qualified! Yay. You are now a writer. Heck you ARE a writer and don’t sell yourself short. We don’t all need to squeeze into the pit at the symphony – some of us are needed at baseball games, weddings, and high school musicals {gags slightly}. Talent is a spectrum, not a bucket. Indeed, it is a traversable spectrum, in that we can learn and grow better at the craft.”

Arby simply said, “telling stories to teach blogging? That’ll work!”

I love Arby.

Cheers,

Mitch
Mitchell Allen recently posted…Scrabble Sunday – Breaking Your VowelsMy Profile

December 4th, 2011 | 11:53 PM

Thanks, David! I’ll do my best!

Cheers,

Mitch
Mitchell Allen recently posted…Scrabble Sunday – Breaking Your VowelsMy Profile

December 5th, 2011 | 8:05 AM

Mitch A: Since moving to Canada, I haven’t seen a decent fireworks display, except when I read your blog. I sit back in awe at the sparks that fly out of your mind. And it always leaves me saying the same profound thing: “Wow!”

Mitch M: Great choice for a guest post!
Charles Gulotta recently posted…Who Knew?My Profile

Mitchell Allen Reply:

Charles, thanks for that wonderful compliment. I guess you don’t sit back and admire your “Mostly Bright Ideas” from afar. Otherwise, you’d see some pyrotechnics, for sure!

By the way, congratulations on publishing a collection of them!

Cheers,

Mitch
Mitchell Allen recently posted…Scrabble Sunday – Breaking Your VowelsMy Profile

December 10th, 2011 | 11:13 AM

Mitch you are in your own category for writing. It is an art form…well let’s call it Mitchology. Combining the artist with the engineering side can only result in some incredible creativity.
Melinda recently posted…String Theory, Albert Einstein, and My FloorMy Profile

Mitchell Allen Reply:

Melinda! You always say the nicest things. It’s no wonder Sandra Bullock is going to be in your movie ;) both of you are Miss Congeniality – except you don’t have to compete.

Mitchology 101, followed by advanced art with your Nerd-Chic 202, perhaps? LOL

Cheers,

Mitch
Mitchell Allen recently posted…Community Network Meme 2011My Profile

December 11th, 2011 | 12:32 AM

Hi Mitch and Mitch!

MA, I didn’t know you’d guest posted over here! (MM is brilliant for asking. :) ) Just for the record (as I’ve told you many times before), I love your writings and your creative process.

Whether on your blog or over at Creative Copy Challenge, you switch-hit with astonishing magical clarity. Of course, Elbe sometimes tangles up my brain trying to follow but when I do, you keep me on my toes. You inspired me to share some creative writings at CCC (thank you for that!)

For anyone who likes Sci-Fi, I’d encourage them to read your Sisterhood of the Void series (and that “virus in the WordPress trash” short complements Mitch Mitchell’s recent post on Malware).

Kudos, MA, and another enlightening read. Cheers!
Vernessa Taylor recently posted…Is Blogging Making You Sick? Doctor, Doctor!My Profile

Mitchell Allen Reply:

Thanks, Vernessa! If Elbe is giving you a hard time, feel free to whack him. He’s in love with his own words and has no respect for simplicity unless it’s a recursive algorithm.

I had a lot of fun imagining a virus in the WordPress trash! Thanks for reminding me.

By the way, that series was compiled into a free PDF. I linked to it via CommentLuv.

Cheers,

Mitch
Mitchell Allen recently posted…Sisterhood of the VoidMy Profile

December 12th, 2011 | 2:39 AM