“Enjoy the Meal”
Part III of a III-Part Series – “Expanded Ideas and ‘Waste’-lines”
By: Paul Sating
Hold on a second! Before you try to consume this awesomeness you really should consider going back and reading the first two parts of the this series. How else are you going to understand why I’m waxing lyrical about the payoff of giving your ideas life? I mean, sure, you’re smart and all, you’ll figure out the plot–mostly because I’m not that clever–but wouldn’t you rather experience the full ride? We’ll wait for you to load on the creation train, we promise. So why not read Part I and Part II now.
Okay, you’re back? Great! Now you know why I want to talk about the impact of what you do when an idea moves you enough to jot it down. Why it’s important that you don’t simply allow that idea to wither and die from neglect. Why it’s your responsibility to plant it, pot it, water it, and make sure it gets enough sun to develop its own root system. You’ll want to do this, my friend, because just like how that apple tree your grandfather planted when he was just a boy fed you deliciously natural snacks (or rotten war projectiles for you country boy types, like me) throughout your childhood, when you take the time and attention to care for your idea it will pay you back ten-fold for the rest of your life.
No, that’s not hyperbole and I don’t play the platitude game. I truly and wholeheartedly mean that.
The idea you just had last night as you were about to go to bed; the genius thought that suddenly slammed into your skull while you were listening to you arrogant teacher pontificate about his opinion about the irrelevant topic he was passionately discussing; the urge to write when you saw that homeless person trying to scurrying across the busy intersection; those are the moments of life that you have a responsibility to capture.
Allow me to not mince words; the idea you have today, should you accept the challenge to flesh it out and weave a tale from it, will become part of the human lexicon forever. Sure, that’s a relative concept (how prominent in the lexicon? What is ‘forever’?) but let’s not waste creative energy on those thoughts, unless they inspire you to create. Instead let’s focus on the payoff of creating. What you do matters; it really, really does.
Think about what stories do for you on a personal level. I challenge you. Grab a scrap piece of paper, a notepad, a napkin, the palm of your little brother’s hand; whatever, and jot down the list of benefits of reading, watching, or listening to stories. They help you escape the doldrums of your life. They make you laugh when you want to cry, and cry when you’re feeling numb. They anger you about things important to you. And they highlight the vast potential of our species. There are so many things stories do beyond ‘just telling a story’ and if you don’t see that I question why you desire to be part of all this. Why do you write, why do you create, if not for the transcendent experience? That will give you an excellent vector to just how much you should invest in this process.
And that’s truly what storytelling does. Sure, we want people to enjoy our creations, we love hearing from people who have heard our latest podcast, or read our latest story and how it moved them. Knowing our creation has moved others moves us all over again. And that’s because those characters in the story, those places they visit, the protagonist and the antagonist, the homeless dude crossing the street and the uncaring mother-in-law … they’re part of you, since a small part of you lives in each of them. The truth is, that is unavoidable. All those characters; the good, the bad, and the ugly, are miniature versions of you. That’s why it hurts so much when the critic insults your good guy; that’s why you soar to the heavens when they love your leading lady.
And therein lies the beauty of the reason, and the ultimate reason why you must take the time to get to know that idea that just popped in your head, the idea we’ve been covering throughout this series. You have a cultural responsibility to tell your story in the way only you can but, more importantly, you deserve the transcendent experience that comes from creating something out of nothing. Every devastating challenge you thrust upon your protagonist that takes them a step closer to sticking the barrel of the pistol in their mouth; every disgusting victory for your antagonist that twists your gut; every child reunited with a parent; every recaptured love; every death … you get to experience it and, I argue, it is the best that feeling is ever going to feel. The listeners or readers who will come across the story days, weeks, or years from now will ride the ride you’ve created for them, they will fly alongside your soaring protagonist and dwell in the depths with your antagonist, but they will never (and I mean, ‘pointer finger tip thumping on my desktop’ kind of never) feel what you’re feeling as you get to know your characters and their stories. Because you get it first, you get it raw and unpolished. You see the characters and the world(s) they live in as they are, without the stage makeup or the primped hair or the polished shoes. You got to be the first one to hate them and the first person to fall in love with them.
And that, my creative friend, is why you must write down that idea.
You owe it to you to live this one life to its fullest. And, as a creative, you must do that for yourself. Your spirit demands it.
So jot that idea down on a chalkboard, a BW3’s napkin, your smartphone, or your friend’s forehead. Think about it, ruminate over it, be a child and play around in that playground and see what magical journey it will take you on. Get lost in the world and play, but never forget that you’re an adult and, at some point, you need to come back here and get to work. Copy my system, mutate it or develop your own. But never, (yes, the pointer finger is thunking my desk again) never, betray the creative genius that served as the genesis of that idea. Never doubt yourself into inertia.
That idea is yours and self-doubt will always be there, lurking, waiting for an opportunity to strike. If you remain faithful to your creative genius you’ll do what all creative geniuses do, you’ll stave off its attack … so you can create a sequel or spin-off … errrrhmm, excuse me, I mean, so you can flesh out that idea into a rich tapestry of colorful characters and settings.
You owe it to the world.
You owe it to you.
Now, go write that idea down. I’m excited to explore your world!
Paul Sating is the creator and writer of Subject: Found, creator of Diary of a Madman, creator and lead writer of Atheist Apocalypse, writer of Family Portrait, and the creator and writer of Who Killed Julie?. He is also editing his manuscript which will hopefully become his first published novel, called “The Scales.” You can sign up for his newsletter on his website to stay abreast of all the projects he has going on. Supporters of Paul Sating on Patreon get no less than two new stories each month.