This morning I watched a video that discussed how the smell of freshly cut grass, which many people find very appealing, is actually a scent that’s released because the grass is in distress. That is its way of calling out because it’s being attacked. The video reminded me of the study done a few years ago in which scientists discerned that plants “scream”. At least, they have a synaptic firing response that’s akin to what happens when humans scream – they don’t actually produce sound. Either way, there are men outside my window cutting the grass as I type this. I can’t help but feel it’s a bit morbid now.
It’s simple things like this that give me ideas. I haven’t mastered yet discerning which ideas are worth saving, which will go somewhere, or if – and I suppose this is best answer – they’re all worth noting and saving; and I have no way of knowing what might develop into a full-form idea or just remain an interesting concept note. The idea of the grass crying out when it’s cut made me think of a child who might want to protect that grass. If you told a compassionate four year old that the smell of fresh-cut grass is actually its cry for help, do you think that child might try to stop mom or dad from mowing the lawn? Would s/he discuss this knowledge with a friendly neighbor or a stranger working in their garden? What would the child think of watering the lawn during a hot summer when it hasn’t rained in a while? About of walking on grass? Would they feel anything at all or accept it as just the harsh reality of nature? From there, one could probably explore the complexity of human compassion.
I wonder where other authors draw their inspiration. (Quick side note – I really wanted to end that sentence with “where other authors draw their inspiration from.” However, I know you’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition and it doesn’t feel natural or sound proper to say “I wonder from where..” So… hope I made the right choice.)
I imagine most draw at least some ideas from their real life experiences and maybe from the stories and imaginings of others. In fact, I recently read a blog post by Amanda (Fucking) Palmer about her husband’s, Neil Gaiman, most recent book. In it, she discusses the creative differences between herself and her husband using a blender analogy. A blender comes with various settings. To keep it simple, we’ll just leave those settings as 1 (not very well blended) through 10 (unrecognizably pulverized). While her life and experiences go into her work and get blended on setting 1, producing an outcome in which you can pretty much see how life and art correlate, her husband’s go on a high-speed 10. Seeing the tangible life of Neil Gaiman in the soup that comes from his blender is nigh impossible. This makes sense as I never even had an inkling that Gaiman’s American Gods was in any way a product of the tangible existence he forges through day in, day out. This was interesting insight.
A few months back, I read another article about Harry Connick Jr’s frustration with the American Idol experience. He was brought in to coach the young starlets on one of their performances and was disappointed when none of them took his advice and the judges continued to praise empty exhibitions of vocal chords over “true” talent. His definition of talent, I believe, involves bringing the lyrics to life as if you were singing your own story – not just belting words. Aaannd… crap. I’ve officially lost where I was going with this point. Oh! Much of his advice, since these performers were not the people who actually wrote the songs, consisted of suggestions to research the lyricist and the origin of the song – particularly for the young woman performing ‘My Funny Valentine’.
Putting these two things together, I think an interesting project might be to research the authors of the books I’m reading. Particularly considering any events that might have taken place around the time they were writing these books. This certainly would have been helpful when I was reading George Sand’s Lelia. I powered through it, determined to see the end even though I didn’t find it particularly enjoyable. Once finished, I read a review of the work on GoodReads.com that told me a lot about the author, what she was going through at the time, and put the book into context compared with her other works. Had I researched this in advance, I think I would’ve read the book entirely differently… and certainly not made that my first George Sand novel.
And had I not sat down to write out these 500 words (now close to 800) today, I would not have thought of this little project.
Words for thought.