Being a sponge

February 10, 2011

Right now, I feel like a sponge:

I like being a sponge. I like absorbing little bits of whatever I’m reading/listening to/thinking about, and letting them percolate and stew together. Really, we all do this pretty much all the time, albeit subconsciously.

However… I’m in the early, early, stages of thinking about a new novel. So early that I have two characters and a single image to go on. Obviously, I need a little bit more than that.

So I’m reading a lot of non-fiction these days. Not looking for anything in particular, just whatever catches my fancy and sparks some ideas. At the moment, that seems to be books on cosmology, some of Joseph Campbell’s theories of mythology,  and various history books. And I can feel scraps of information starting to collide and stick together like lint in the dryer. Sometimes I like to think of it like an incredibly awesome Input/Output machine. Unassociated facts and ideas go in, fiction comes out!

Joking aside, though, I think this stage is important, particularly as I feel the last novel took a lot out of me… I’d been carrying a lot of those ideas around for a very long time. There is always more to write about, and I know that, but at the same time it feels strange to be moving away from the concepts I’ve been thinking about for so long.

If writing a novel is like taking a journey (and I think it really is), this is the part where I’m leafing through guide books. I may know roughly what part of the world I want to visit, but I have no firm concept of which country or cities to hit, much less a full road map and itinerary. As frustrating as that can be (and I’ll admit, it is a little unsettling to be striking out into new territory again), it is fun to have nothing but possibilities and potential. The budget and packing, the logistics and route… all that has to come eventually, but later. Right now, I’m ooh-ing and aah-ing over glossy photographs.

It’s good to be a sponge.




  1. I heard a writer once compare this stage you’re in as a tea kettle on the stove. Cold water sitting there, then beginning to stir, then to steam, then to collide, then to boil over. I thought it a great analogy. Sounds like you’re in the steaming stage.

    • Ooh, I like it! I think I am beginning to steam… but the water has to get a little hotter. 😉

  2. Fiction is based on a lot of boring facts and realities. XD

  3. My own experience is that I’ll research something that I want to write about and often end up writing a completely different story. Life is the primary research for what we write, and being a sponge is exactly right.

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