Monday, July 19, 2010

Revision Tip #2: The Electric Percolator

So we went on our church campout last Friday night. Sam called me Thursday afternoon and told me there was a chance he was in charge of "a large percentage of the entertainment portion of the campout." 

I assume he was using words like "percentage" and "chance" to soften the blow that he was giving me 24 hours notice.

I did what any supportive church wife would do: promptly laughed into the phone and declared, "Looks like you're S-O-L.  Wow. A guy who procrastinates. Could you be any more of a cliche? Why don't you leave the toilet seat up, and then go scratch your nether regions."

Normally, I would be totally up for planning the entertainment, but 24 hours is not enough time. I need to let an idea percolate. 

Afterward, I let the idea marinate:

And finally, I leave it alone for a while to simmer:
(Do not try this at home, because no matter how much time you have, coffee will never turn into raw meat and then potatoes. I know from experience.)

Not surprisingly, this is as close as I get to actually cooking. 

So, Sam's all, "Can't you percolate faster?"

No. I can't. And here's the thing about ideas: if you try to rush them, it just slows down the whole process, and then you get a nasty case of writer's block. At least, that's what happens to me. 

When did we stop talking about camping entertainment and start talking about writer's block? You see how I did that? Smoothly took camping story and veered left toward revision advice.  

If I have three weeks before revisions are due, you can bet two of those weeks will be simply going about my daily life, ruminating.

Ask any writer, and they'll tell you much of writing is looking out a window, taking a shower, going for a walk, leaving the brain open for that a-ha moment.

Now for a choppy segue back to camping story. So, I ask Sam what he has in mind for entertainment so far. He says, "I thought we could hang out around the campfire, and maybe sing camp songs."

What I think is: 
1. Does he even know any camping songs? Besides maybe Koom-by-yah? (totally nailed that spelling, right?)
2. Is someone bringing a guitar? Or is he going full-on acapella?
3. Is he actually going to stand up and say, "Now we shall sing" or is he hoping for a moment when the campers will just spontaneously break into song?

But what I say is: "That sounds great. Go for it."

Because if I don't have any better ideas, I shouldn't give an opinion on his. And I don't have any better ideas. Because there was no time to percolate.

BTW, Sam has since said, "Can you please stop talking about percolating?"

No. I can't.

And now I'm off to go percolate in the shower. It can get messy.

So, how do y'all cultivate ideas?

p.s. Is camping with children ever worth it? 


  1. I have very fond memories of going camping as a kid. However as an adult, I really have no desire to go. Now that I have a son...I'm dreading the day he asks, "Can we go camping?"

    To percolate an idea I find myself relaxing, cup of tea in hand, going over notes, looking at brainstorming pictures/examples/etc, taking a walk and/or listening to music. When in doubt...I start cooking/baking. Sometimes while doing something sparks your creativity.

  2. I agree! It's the mundane tasks that bring on the best ideas. Although, cooking is hardly a mundane task. It's more like a life-threatening ordeal.

  3. Or maybe I've been doing cooking all wrong.

  4. I don't think camping in any form is worth it, unless it's at a nice hotel and spa.

    I think percolating is the most important part to anything creative. But, what you need to do is have someone invade your dreams and plant an idea in your head! Inception is always the best policy because then the other person percolates not you!

  5. Jenni- did you see Inception? It looks so good! If only it could really happen with book ideas...

  6. I just realized I said camping IS worth it not ISN'T worth it. I meant ISN'T! *rolls eyes*

    I did see Inception. I went with the hubby on Saturday. It was SO good! Probably the best movie I've see in a really long time. I absolutely loved it and I wish it were totally real!

  7. I don't think most things that involve leaving the house with children are worth it. Going to the grocery store with them? Ugh. I can only imagine that camping is that much worse. Especially since they're sharing a tent and can kick you in the head all night.

    However, I do know camp songs after girls' camp. Too bad I can't ever get them out of my head...

  8. I agree with Jenni. Taking kids anywhere is not worth it. This is why we are house bums. Just going to Costco wears me out.

    But yeah, about percolating, I sit on my patio and stare at plants. Neighbors walking by probably think I am nuts, but staring is what does it for me. You aren't supposed to stare at people, so plants seem like a good alternative. Watering plants works, too, though it ups the water bill since I'm repeating the sprinklers' job.

    Also, I blow-dry (see today's post). Good luck with your revisions!

  9. Jenilyn- I'm the same way! Sam's all, "We need milk" and I'm all, "How am I supposed to accomplish that? I have the kids!"

    p.s. C- that's the way it begins.
    H- That's the next letter in
    I- I am the third
    C- That's the season of the bird
    oh K- That old letter's my friend
    E- Now we're nearing the end
    C-H-I-C-K-E-N... that is the way you spell, Chicken!

    Just to prove campsongs, like stories, don't have to have a point.

    Nikki- I'm all for people- watching to get ideas. Neighbor watching is okay, it's when you write YA, and you find yourself people watching at a high school, that it gets a little creepy...

  10. No, camping with kids isn't worth it but you do it anyway because you assume it will change their lives somehow and make them lovey ou unconditionally.

    PS - this is a family blog and I would appreciate you not going into such scandelous things as percolating in the shower. :)

  11. I LOVED camping as a kid. Now that I'm on the other side of the whole process, I spend a lot of time thinking WHAT IN HEAVEN'S NAME WERE MY PARENTS THINKING!???!?! We're going in a few weeks. I hope to live through it.

    Percolating is extremely important. Which someone needs to explain to my husband, who doesn't understand why, when he took the kids away for a whole day so I could prep for a stamping class, I am just starting to cut paper when he gets home. Well, hello, I had to think. Which means I read a book and exercised and played computer games. :P

  12. Cam- I thought percolating in the shower would be the perfect way to raise the elevation of this blog to the PG-13 territory. After all, the blog's growing up.

    Britt- Husbands! They see us vegging on the couch, and immediately assume all we're doing is vegging on the couch. The nerve!

  13. It is my experience that the amnesia that consumes us after having labored for hours on end to birth our children and then say to ourselves a few short years later, "Hey... I think we should do that again!" is the same amnesia that causes us to think that doing things like taking our children to museums and camping, or heck, even to Satan's Shopping Center (a.k.a. Wal-Mart) is a good idea.

    Can I get an amen?

    p.s. Need your address, I found something at a store that is meant to be in your mailbox.

  14. Sal- Amen Sistah!

    p.s. (I'll email you my address.)

  15. Sal- p.s.

    "meant to be in my mailbox"...

    is it a bill?

  16. LoL, no. Not a bill. You'll understand when you see it.

  17. I love the campping/writing/cooking advice! It's so true! How did the singing turn out?

  18. Leisha- The singing turned out as singing always does: awkward and off-key.