Writing… "thought kernels"… and Neil Gaiman


Pencil sketch – Neil Gaiman channelling
Keanu Reeves (or vice-versa?)

During my lunch hour I like to surf the web and catch up on my blog reading. I usually cycle through the ones that I have listed in the links section of my own blog. One of my favorites is Neil Gaiman’s. I marvel at how prolific he is. This led me to pose a question to him (I elaborate below).

Invariably, when am at work, or at the oddest of times (like the middle of the night… I’ve been know to get up to jot down a thought), I get these little flashes of inspiration. I’ve dubbed them “thought kernels” because they usually are not complete in and of themselves, but much like seeds could potentially be planted and grown into complete works. I had such a moment at work yesterday, and proceeded to email myself with the thought. As much as I hate to postpone working on these ideas later, I often have to set them aside because of other things I have going on. Not necessarily writing projects, but rather things like work… or the dishes… or laundry… etc.

I also tend to start on a bunch of things, when the inspiration strikes, and then allow the sparks to burn themselves out, always moving on to the next brightly burning project instead of completing the previous one. Quite honestly, this is an aspect of myself that I find really annoying and would love to change. In any case, I asked Neil how he deals with these obtrusive “sparks” and how he kept on task with projects when he still had a “day job” (assuming he’s had one at some point in time).

I struggle with these things. I’m at a starting point in this industry at a point in my life where my would-be peers have pretty much already established themselves, and do not have to deal with the “beginner” issues that I am faced with. By the same token, those who are at that starting point are usually quite a bit younger, which also means that their responsibilities differ from mine. I have a family… a job that provides us healthcare benefits. A 401K plan. Our level of comfort depends on the portion of income that I generate. I can’t just live out of a suitcase on a friend’s couch and eat ramen until the something fabulous materializes. So… I try and do as I am able, as time and energy permits… and hopefully someday it will pay off. Until then, may the journey be worthwhile.

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