Tell a Prompter

Can we be prompted into conscious creation? Let’s look beyond conventional brainstorming to examine speculative introspection. Instead of taking our mental processes for granted, what would happen if we decisively chose to create?

Ornate stupa construction

Photo by Wonderlane

One of the weirdest sensations I experience comes while trying to explain a lucid dream to my wife. Upon awakening, the dream is so vivid, its interpretation so clear, but my tongue never ever gets the memo. What comes out of my mouth is a gibbering collection of half-sentences, goofy geometrical gesticulations and impossibly incoherent inspiration. In a flash, I’m fully awake and I sheepishly look at my wife and shrug, “Never mind. I forget, now.” The vertigo of a lost train of thought is disconcerting, though I take comfort knowing that the tattered remnants yet swim just below the conscious surface.

Consider the conscious creation of fiction as a more coherent model train set. Two parallel tracks run from Grand Central Nebulous to Germination Station. Little seeds chug back and forth, growing and withering daily. Unlike a real train station, I have no idea what lies within the terminus of Grand Central Nebulous, though I know who hangs out on the platform:

  • Douglas Adams
  • Ayn Rand
  • The Mosaic Syndicate

These are the writers who have had the most profound effect on my thinking. It is the power of the big three that keeps the seeds running on time. Generally speaking, seeds from the big three are grand ideas, themes and abstract philosophies. I suppose they run on the so-called local track, taking the scenic route, stopping along the way to smell the roses – or to explode.

Train of thought?

Photo by Brian Forbes

Apparently, I’m influenced by thousands of auxiliary writings and visual media. These manipulators merely massage manuscripts – creating comparable, kaleidoscopic images that all say the same thing. Seeds from these sources go out on the express track from Grand Central Nebulous. Nine ladies-in-waiting sit on the dainty benches at Germination Station, tending to the needs of the little seeds that hurtle into the station like demons through a fissure. The life-spark of conscious creation, like the hotly debated unborn human, defies definition as to its moment of instantiation. The Muses, however, seem to know instinctively which seeds possess that spark. Instantly, they’re on a hotline to my imagination, planting and watering and coaxing the little roots to sprout.

While I can no more make a seed than grow a third arm, I believe that, somehow, I can tap into the life-spark generator. I just need a medium through which to channel the force. That medium is writing prompts – a wonderful way to blast through writer’s block. Given a list of ten words, we are challenged to write a cohesive story tying them all together. Since joining, I’ve come to appreciate the power held in a random list of ten words. You see, on two levels, the words really aren’t all that random (except in cases where the contributor uses a random word generator.) The inherent pattern or association that ties these words together usually “jumps out” at a writer, even though he might claim not to know where the idea originated.

Ten Words from CCC #153

At the contributory level, a writer may be looking around her room or office, selecting words based on what she sees. Sometimes, there is an obvious pattern to the words that signal deliberate intent. Conversely, at the challenge level, we seem compelled to create connections between the words, even with no goal of writing a story. Speaking for myself, I very rarely visit the site with an intention of creating a specific story. Actually, I may have to amend this statement in a moment. However, in the beginning, I would just stare at the list until something came to me from the Muse hotline.

Week in and week out, quite a few of these seeds have taken root in the form of a prompt-inspired vignette , poem or philosophical outburst. All credit goes to the prompters and the tender care of the Muses. In fact, none of those writings would have come from my pen otherwise. However – and here is that amendment – due to the sheer joy of creating stuff on, one of my grand ideas has taken root (an on-going cosmological adventure). In addition, two seeds came out of Grand Central Nebulous as a result of weird dreams. These needed only a little prompting to blossom.

I was asked how I so quickly came up with the submission for those ten words, above. It was a combination of a weird dream, cooperative Muses and the context of a previous submission. Now, I can’t say whether the previous submission sparked the dream but, having an idea of something to write drastically narrows one’s focus. So, there’s that, too. Finally, only two of those ten words evoked associations that suggested I use the aforementioned context as a springboard:

  • Ice cream: summer, heat, dusty, cool, shade
  • Splendid: experimental results

So, I think it is safe to say that there is a symbiotic relationship between writing prompts and conscious creation. The evidence is clearly visible from the dozens of responses to every single challenge on the site.
Do you have a story in you that’s struggling to get out? Maybe it just needs to be prompted. Share your thoughts about conscious creation. Better yet, Join us at the CCC!

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