Genius: A Small Ingredient

People will get an awesome idea and get right to work.  Then they realize one truth.  Anything worth having takes work.  It doesn't have to be difficult.  Suddenly, after a few days effort, they stop or quit, stating the inspiration has left them.

What the hell?

There’s a saying. “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety nine percent perspiration.”  Thomas Edison.

To illustrate this, I’m going to paraphrase an example I’ve read by Michael Neill.  Google him.  He’s pretty damn cool.

I have a friend who works at Home Depot.  They have mountains of white paint in the paint department.  How ironic.  When a customer requests blue, for example, my friend places a few drops of blue in the white, and voila, you have blue paint. If the customer changes their minds and wants purple, a few drops of red and there you have it.  Purple.  The drops of colored paint is the inspiration, but the white base is the work.

In all arts, the inspiration is usually short lived.  But your passion and work carries it to fruition.  If people expect ever-flowing inspiration, then eventually the paint turns black.

When I was writing my novel, I had a big problem.  There are three basic types of fantasies.  A professional novelist pointed this out to me:

1.    Strange toad in a familiar garden.

a.     Witches, vampires, and werewolves in the real world.

2.     Familiar toad in a strange garden.

a.     Humans in middle earth, humans in space, humans at the center of the earth.

3.     Strange toad in a strange garden.

a.     Witches, vampires, or werewolves in space.

Mine is the third type. Which just happens to be the hardest because I have to world build the strange toad and the strange garden.  It wasn’t my choice.  It’s not like I sat down and said, “Wow. This sounds fun.  Let’s take the hardest freakin’ thing and jump.”

The story came to me.  And I ran with it.  Now came the hard part.  I needed tons of ideas to create this world.  So I sat down every day, wrote, and ideas came slowly at first.  Then within a few days I was flooded with them.  A lot of other artists has described similar experiences.  I had to buy a notebook or I’d forget them, which quickly filled with disjointednuggets of gold.

Did I use all of them?  Most.

The moral?

Follow through with your flashes of genius.  You’ll never know what will come.  If you need ideas to support your work, ask for them.  They’ll come.

Vampires in space.  Hmmm.