Friday, July 1, 2011

Creativity is like a Large Hadron Collider

I normally don't start a blog post with advertising - and I'm really actually not, because this post does have a point.

Today marks the release of Rachel Haimowitz' "Where He Belongs", a most excellent collection of short stories and vignettes related to her surprise smash hit "Anchored: Belonging".

Now, it's no secret that Rachel and me have been collaborating, and we're currently embarking on a big old adventure I hope to be able to talk about very soon, but for the moment, Rachel's a writer I greatly admire. Also, she links to some extremely hot stuff on her Twitter account, so by all means follow her.

But the real point is - I'm talking about how ideas happen. Sometimes I don't know, but I have an example where I do know. My ideas tend to happen when two (or sometimes three) things collide that weren't touching before.

In a way, creativity is like the Large Hadron Collider, that enormous man-made machine that spins particles around, accelerating them very fast, then smashing them into each other and then looks what happens (they are looking for new particles/waves and try to work out how the universe happens... fascinating stuff).

Creativity is the same (although we usually don't care much about the Birth of the real Universe - internal universes are plenty for us writers to content with).

One of those particles was Rachel Haimowitz' "Belonging" world - featured in both "Anchored" and "Where He Belongs". That world, which is built around the idea that our modern world still has slavery (it was never abolished) grabbed me by the collar a few months ago and never let me go. Her take on slavery in our current day world just struck a nerve, a big flaring nerve of "wow, that's awesome".

The Muse pounced on that world with utter glee - and within a few days, I knew I wanted to write something about slave fighters in that world.

That's the particle my brain brought to it. "Awesome stuff - what does this mean for warriors/fighters/soldiers?" is my usual response to almost anything.

At this stage, the first spark of idea could have turned into anything - cage fighters, or soldiers, or something like that, but the idea was looking for a shape for a while, and that is the part of the process that just has to happen. Inspiration, if you will.

The third particle was missing.

Well, my partner brought that one to the table. He's been boxing for two years (resulting in some very nice changes...). Now, you might or might not be aware, but tomorrow is the fight of David Haye "Haymaker" versus Wladimir Klitschko. It's a much anticipated heavyweight title fight, and it's been trying to happen for a year or so.

So my partner was telling me all about Haye and Klischko, and the third particle appeared and smashed into the others.

Yes, I'd write about slave boxers. Brooklyn Marshall was born, first as a bundle of resentment and anger, then as a London boxer (boxing in a very similar stable to the one my partner trains in - which incidentally was the place where David Haye started his career), then eventually as an angry, desperate, but ultimately unbroken man in a situation where he has to fight for his freedom, life, and dignity. Part gladiator, part criminal, part good man fallen on bad times.

I refined the basic idea with research and my partner thankfully indulged me with questions like "what hurts more - a punch to the kidney or the face?" and stuff like diet, training regime, preparation, attitude. It all came together. I can still see all the componwents, but in the end, "Counterpunch", the novel set in Rachel Haimowitz' "Belonging" world, became totally its own thing.

And now that it's all written and sold and we're in the last stages of the book design (cover and everything) - now the long-anticipated fight between Haye and Klischko will actually happen (it was postponed a few times). And I'll be sitting on the couch tomorrow with friends and cheer them on.

Klischko seems like the nicer guy, but Haye is by far the more exciting boxer, but whoever wins, they helped me make that novel, just one of those things that went into making something new.

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