Today I want to talk to you about a discovery I made about the creative process. Remember the poem The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost? If not, you can read it or listen to it for yourself at the following link:
The reason I bring this up to you my dear readers, is two-fold. First of all, it is one of my all-time favorite poems, and I’d like to encourage you to read it if you haven’t already. The second and most important reason I want to mention this poem is because it reminds me of the creative process. If you’re a writer, musician/song writer, artist etc., there is a distinct similarity to the traveler in this poem. Let me explain in the next paragraph.
So, let’s say you are inspired to write a story and the source of your inspiration is a song, story, painting, you name it, it ignites the creative spark in you. Your story has something very similar, yet the similarity is so miniscule that you don’t notice it at first. Once you find the one aspect of your inspirational source that bares the slightest resemblance to a scene in your story, the similarities end after that point. Let me speak creatively by using an example of how one of my favorite songs inspired part of a prequel to my self-published full-length novel, to make my point.
For me, the creative spark for a story I am writing entitled Jason’s Peril, was ignited by a song entitled “The Banker”, which was written and recorded by the late, great, Dan Seals, back in 1983. For those who aren’t familiar with his work, he was half of the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley, popular back in the 1970s. He became popular as a country artist back in the 1980s. Here’s a link to the song I mentioned above:
This song tells a story of its own. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there is a banker in both the song and in my story. After this point, the similarities end and the stories go in completely different directions.
After listening to the song by following the YouTube link above, take this into consideration. There is a scene in Jason’s Peril, where Jim is told by the banker that he has 60 days to pay the property taxes on his family’s farm or he will lose it. Dianna, his daughter goes out to try to find a way for her family to keep the land, and ends up taking on a much bigger project. Here’s the question I’d like to pose as food for thought: What are the similarities between the song and my story, and where do the stories venture away from each other? Before you read further, take a moment to guess which rode I took, the one laid out before me or the one not taken? If you’re still not sure, read on to see the answer to this question.
Once I figure out where the resemblance between the song and part of my work in progress lies, I then have to figure out where my story meanders away from the lyrics of the song. Here’s the question I must ask myself: Do I stay on the path that the song takes me down, or do I take the path less traveled by in order to follow where my own story leads?
My answer and the aha moment I came to are as follows:
I venture down the creative path not taken, for two reasons. One, the first path has heretofore been laid out long before I decided to become a writer. I can enjoy the story the song has to tell, but it has already been written and recorded, whereas my story has yet to be written. Number two, I love the art of self-discovery as part of my writing process, therefore I will let my characters take me away from the song which inspired me in the beginning. As a storyteller, standing at the fork in the creative path, I choose to follow the road not taken so I can let my characters lead me where they want me to go, thus telling my own story in the way I feel is important to me as an author and to you, my dear readers.
Which path will you choose, dear writers, the path of least resistance or the road not taken? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. Also feel free to share the aha moments you’ve had as part of your creative lifestyle.
Before I go, I wanted to mention one more thing. If you’re interested to find out how and where the same banker from Jason’s peril has appeared in A Journey of Faith, check it out by visiting the following amazon links:
If you want to know what inspired me to write a scene where the banker appears in this novel, please let me know and I’ll write a post about it.
Until Next time, when I will give you a NaNoWriMo update, Happy writing and God bless.