Writer, Screw in the Light Bulb Already!

In last week’s post But What’s the Because?, I pondered writerly reasons for blogging or for sharing other types of writing with the world.

Apparently, ideas have turned all theme-y in my brain — because here I am, blogging about them again. This time, I’m drawing inspiration from Patrick Ross’s terrific post about Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon.

Chabon says that ideas are like bright light bulbs filling room after room. The lights entice him to distraction. His challenge is to figure out which one is worth his time and energy.

My experience with these “light bulbs” is different. Here are some of the thoughts I shared when I commented on Patrick’s post:

For me, getting ideas is like wandering from room to room in a ginormous mansion. Sometimes, there’s a bright light that draws me to a particular room. I go in and follow that one light to wherever it leads me. When I’m finished in that room, I leave it and go on to the next bright light.

Some lights are dimmer than others — so I know not to enter those rooms until later (i.e. I put those ideas aside for the time being).

Sometimes, one of the rooms lacks a light. Illumination might spill from another doorway, just barely touching the threshold of the darkened room. But there’s no light burning in that room, so I know not to enter it…

…unless I’m feeling particularly adventuresome and want to challenge whatever might be lurking in the darkness. ; )

Challenge the darkness? Do I dare?

You better believe I do.

I’ve got all the tools I need in that dark room. The skills I’ve learned and practiced. The passion in being created to create. The love for my craft. The fellow creatives God has blessed my life with.

If there’s potential for the light of idea to dispel the darkness, then it’s worth it to me to stay in that dark room and coax the light into it.

I just have to remember who I am and who I was created to be.

Sometimes, all I have to do is screw in the light bulb.

How do you relate to Chabon’s light bulb metaphor?

What’s your greatest challenge in following the creative light?

What is the creative darkness you fear most?

7 thoughts on “Writer, Screw in the Light Bulb Already!

  1. Pamela Davis says:

    Sometimes I can almost feel light bulbs going off when I write-I guess that would be more like flash bulbs on a camera. The lights don’t burn for long. It is like I get a flash of an idea, a small piece and then I have to make it real. Inspiration + good hard work.

    What I fear the most creatively is severe depression. In the times of my life when I’ve been so depressed, the creativity has gone bye-bye. I hope and believe that I will never end up in such a bad place again. But it is my greatest fear.

    • Pam, I can relate to depression as a greatest fear. It’s one of mine, too. But for me, the sequence is usually lack of creativity, then depression. But of course, the more depressed I am, the less I want to create. At some point, it’s a cycle, and it stops mattering where it started!

      I’ve discovered, though, that certain activities will ward off depression if I feel it coming on. Oil painting with my fingers seems to be my guaranteed cure. ; )

      I love the flash bulbs! And I’m loving how this metaphor works in so many different directions! Fun stuff. Thanks for reading and commenting, Pam!

  2. Anna Gilliland says:

    I don’t really relate to light bulbs and rooms. However, my ideas grow as if rediscovering the memories of a movie I might have seen. I’ll see clips of scenes from the story and get a sense of emotions from the characters, sometimes very intensely. The reason for this is because I read stories this way, seeing the scenes in my head like watching a movie.

    • Anna, that’s awesome. One of my favorite things is when a writer’s style is so clear, I can see the events and characters like a film in my head.

      This light bulb metaphor is pretty interesting. You don’t relate to it…but still, movies have something to do with light. Projected on a canvas or shining out from a screen. Flickering, flashing… . I wonder if every writer thinks of writing in some metaphor that relates to light?

      Anna, you might be sparking (ha ha) an entire series of blog posts here. ; )

  3. Patrick Ross says:

    Hi Courtney, so glad my post has stimulated some creative thinking! I love the way you’ve taken the light motif and made it your own.

    As to your questions, I think my original post let you know how much his image stuck with me. The concept really hit me — I do have ideas, all the time, and they all seem great, and I only have so much time, and I’m loathe to give up on an idea when I pursue it and it just doesn’t work. I’m not sure what my imagery is, however. Given my own predilections for a certain unhealthy food, I guess I see a room filled with dangling strips of tasty bacon.

  4. Patrick, I’m so glad you dropped in! Thanks for taking the time to read my post. : )

    And yes, your original post made it very clear that this concept revved up your creative engine, too! I love how so many of us cree-ay-tives can find something to relate to in that metaphor.

    And YES TO BACON. Wouldn’t be fun to clean up afterward, but my-oh-my would it be yummy to find a room like that! ;D

  5. […] when what needs to happen is that we writers to band together and invite each other in. We need to challenge the darkness individually and collectively. We need to form a tribe that affirms and reaffirms and assures and […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.