Connections And Disconnections

By Serdar Yegulalp on 2019-12-15 13:00:00 No comments

Steve has a post up where he makes the claim that staying connected to one's work is more important that any slavish methodology for how to execute it. I think he's got a great point, one I approached from an entirely different angle by way of a question I ask myself about a prospective project: "Is this something I can see myself sitting down to work on literally every day for the next year or more?"

It's a useful filter, because it forces you think about what stories you care about as opposed to what stories just sound neat. I have a repository with something like three or four dozen story ideas that are "interesting", but only in the way that an abstract painting is "interesting." They're not the kind of thing that make me want to sit down with them every single day for a year, at least not in their current form. To borrow a Stevism, there's no connection to the material there.

Two things leap out at me from this:

  1. I never know when a connection is going to form.
  2. Not having a connection now doesn't mean I will never have one.

Both of these are arguments for different strategies. The first is to always keep ideas around and to play with them, and to keep playing with them. The way you played with something last year isn't going to be the same way you played with it this year, and it might well yield up a different kind of fun.

The second strategy is a corollary of the first: to be aware of how as you change, your sense of how you connect to things, and what you connect to, also changes. Early in my career I had what bordered on an obsession with ancient Japan, something I planned to use as fuel for my work -- hence the name of this imprint. That lasted for a little while, and I got two and a half good books out of it. (The half-a-book never saw the light of day. Maybe someday it will.) But I wasn't content to let the label dictate my curiosity.

There was a time when things like the failure modes of airplanes, or the way Robert Moses changed the geography of New York, would never have crossed my desk. Now they're fuel for a new kind of creativity. Stay open and receptive to new fuel.

Tags: creativity creators writers writing