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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Into the grinding waters

I imagine there has to be at least one reader out there who wonders where I get my ideas about which I blog. (Yes, I really do imagine it, regardless of whether it has any possibility of being true. I imagine having superpowers all the time, too.) "Where does Hydrargentium get blog ideas?" -- I can see it in a thought bubble over the person's head.

The answer, of course, is, "I dunno."

There's no one place I get my ideas. I don't use any fancy brainstorming techniques to stir up a good blog posting. There are no mind webs, no word games, nothing of the sort being applied, or even considered. Seriously, my brain is enough of a storm as it is without adding to the maelstrom.

(Man, I love that word, "maelstrom". I'm not even using it quite right here, since, technically, it refers to water -- from the Dutch "malen" and "strom", meaing grinding stream. But it's an awesome word, evocative in and of itself, and it looks pretty cool written down.)

Sometimes, I will be thinking about things -- any things, doesn't really matter -- during the day, and take inspiration from those thoughts. Often, this will be during what would otherwise be mental "down time", where I don't have anything specific to think about, nothing to which I should be applying my significant mental capacities. Not unfrequently, though, these extraneous ponderances come unbidden when my mind should be otherwise engaged, like in meetings, or when I'm supposed to be solving a problem, or even when I'm in the middle of a one-to-one conversation with someone about something in which I'm really interested. (Needless to say, I've gotten pretty good at covering for my lapses in attention over the years.) Regardless of the timing of these thoughts, they provide a large measure of the fodder used to feed the blog.

Other times, though, I'll look at the clock, think, "Uh-oh, I'm running out of time. I better start my blog post," and then open up Notepad, with nothing specific in mind about which I could possibly blog. You'd think that having the glaring expanse of white screen would be daunting, without any ideas as to what might fill it, and a deadline looming. Heck, I'd think so, too, normally.

Fortunately for me, I'm a pretty fast thinker. I catch on to what other people are trying to explain rather quickly, often before that person would expect it possible to do. Not only that, I'm the kind of thinker who absorbs information and immediately starts applying it and cross-matching it and interweaving it with all the other stuff under my skull. Hence, the storm inside my head.

All this simply means that, in the time between when I go to open Notepad, and the time where I set my fingers to the keyboard to type the first word, my brain will go into hyperdrive and pop out an idea. Call it the "best" of a thousand. (I put "best" in quotes here because the analysis is necessarily brief. It may not actually be "the best", but it'll be good enough for blogging.)

Still within the same timespan, that idea will generate a sentence. Usually, it's the opening one, a good line that will work to get the readers reading. Sometimes, it's not the kind of sentence with which you (or at least I) would start a blog post. Again, the hyperdrive comes through, and the first sentence will combine with the impetus to blog, and an opening sentence is begat.

After that, I just start writing, part of my brain ranging ahead to pull out the ramifications and arguments for the post's content, and another part pulling the concepts into words and phrases, and organizing those into sentences and paragraphs. (Interestingly, I rarely go back and make changes once I've left a paragraph.)

But wait, the above paragraph implies the potential for other parts of my brain to be doing other things as well. The implication is deliberate, and the potential is actual. Even while I'm racing headlong through the creation of a blog posting, there are other parts of my brain doing all sorts of other things.

Like noticing the blinking advertisement in the web page behind the Notepad window. Or pulling in snippets of half-heard conversation coming from those around me. Or tapping my foot to the Muzak coming from the speaker in the ceiling. Or stopping my foot from tapping, since it's Muzak, and really, that's just pathetic if you have to tap your foot to that.

Or figuring out where to stop the blog.



At 10:38 AM, January 31, 2008 , OpenID frankbyrns said...

I agree.

"Maelstrom" is an awesome word.


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