3 June 2008

External Stimulus to Create

Filed under: Ktismata, Psychology, Reflections — ktismatics @ 3:00 am

My last extended outburst of fictional creativity came in response to a conversation I had with a friend of mine, a cinematographer by profession. “Let’s make a movie together,” he said to me one night over dinner. The next day, lying in bed, daydreaming, I came up with about a dozen ideas for short films. I wrote brief descriptions of each and emailed them to my friend. He liked one in particular, and so I wrote up a screenplay for what would have been about a 5-minute short. But I liked all the other ideas too and didn’t want to abandon them.

I’d previously written a novella that consisted mostly of a series of short isolated episodes, culminating in one extended event that brought the story to its crisis. I realized that the ideas for short films I’d come up with during my daydream might fit nicely into this novel. And so over the next month or so I wrote up several of these ideas and incorporated them into the book. Because I’d originally envisioned them as movies, these new stories had a more physical and visual feel to them than had many of the other episodes in the novella, most of which took place largely in the main character’s imagination. This move toward physicality propelled me to think about extending the momentum ever farther, adapting a couple other things I’d written previously that had no other home, adding some transitional interludes, writing a new extended section that hadn’t been there before but that now suggested itself to me based on these other additions. Eventually the book grew to twice its original length and turned into a more complete work of long fiction. Most importantly, it became a significantly better book.

The movie never got made. We had one brief conversation about scouting locations for filming, but nothing ever came of it. The novel remains unpublished and unread by anyone other than my wife. So do I regret having been tricked into creating by external stimulus and false hope? I know what I’m supposed to say…



  1. The whole topic of creativity interests me a lot too. Like you, I’ve noticed external as well as internal factors.


    Comment by Paul Maurice Martin — 3 June 2008 @ 6:19 pm

  2. Dude, you’ve tracked me down from Theos Project and Erdman’s discussion of law and freedom. The topic of this post is related to desire also: how much of the urge to create is an inner passion, and how much is it the desire to be desired by others? Almost surely it’s some of both, and I’ve come to a greater realization of my other-centeredness than I ever had before. Frankly I don’t like it very much, acknowledging my dependence on others in this way.


    Comment by ktismatics — 3 June 2008 @ 8:09 pm

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