Long before I became a writer, I was an avid reader. All that reading inspired me to write. Now it occurs to me that I have depleted my well of ideas and words. I no longer have a plot, a theme, a set of characters that compel me to write. Maybe I need to read some more, and not just so I can then write comments about the books, nor to check out what “the competition” is doing (laughable thought!), but simply for the pleasure of experiencing mind movies created by the word-constructions of other writers.
Brain research has revealed a great deal about our issued-at-birth CPUs, but brain function is still largely a mystery. I’ve lived long enough to have made long-term observations about how my brain works, and I suspect that it needs a lot of input before it can produce anything exciting. I do not have a formula for the input — this much Great Literature, a certain amount of contemporary award-winners, a bit of CanLit, a few mysteries, a touch of romance — no, it’s not like that at all. Everything read, heard, overheard, and observed goes into the mix, and the brain sorts, files, matches and links until one day in the shower, or taking a walk, or washing dishes, I get an Idea, thrown up by the ever-busy brain, a Really Good Idea that must be written down asap, because such ideas are as fleeting as hummingbirds. One second they are present in jeweled magnificence, the next they are gone, leaving only a husk of “Didn’t I just have a really good idea about… Oh shit!”
Once captured, an idea needs to grow and mature, by a process rather like that of star formation — more ideas added until the whole thing heats up and starts to spin. The process can’t be induced by force; it just happens, but it needs a lot of raw material. So over the upcoming holidays and for the rest of the winter I’m going to read for the sake of reading, like I used to before the writing bug came along. Even if it doesn’t inspire another novel, or at least a few stories, it will be a vacation for my brain.