Beautiful Illogical Messes: The Art of Writing and Permanent Spring Showers
I wish this could all make sense.
It would be wonderful if the arts worked in the same side of the brain as logic and math. But it doesn't, creativity lives with dreams. It resides in that wonderful land people visit when they want to “think outside the box.” And if you try to control that part of the brain with deadlines and rules, it turns off, creating that painful writer’s block.
The trick, I have found, is learning to go with it. It’s almost zen in a way, allowing the river to take you, as compared to fighting against the current. So when someone asks me where my ideas come from, I never know exactly how to start. When you are in a river, the last thing you are thinking about is how you got there, you are more curious about where you are going and when you will reach shore again.
I have had ideas come to me in dreams, as hooky as that sounds. My novel My Problem With Doors is a time travel story and it began as a nightmare. I had walked through a door and ended up in a different land, in another time and I knew in my heart I would never be able to get home again. I woke up from that one in a sweat.
Two of my other novels (A Jane Austen Daydream and Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare) began as jokes. And one of my novels appeared fully formed in my mind on a car ride. I remember this moment vividly, my wife and I were driving home from my parents, and I asked her to write down a sentence on a piece of paper. I think she ended up using her lipstick. That sentence became my novel Megan.
My latest novel is Permanent Spring Showers and when it first entered my head it was a mess. I saw a bunch of eccentric characters, each with their own plots and needs. An early inspiration was the classic Woody Allen film Hannah and Her Sisters. Yet, what drew everything and everyone together for my story was a painting.
I can still see this painting in my head. It is not in any art gallery, and it wouldn’t fit in one.
It is massive, filling up the entire side of a building. The painting says something about our connection to nature, birth, life, sex… and it moves. I can’t explain it exactly, but based on where you stand it can look a little different. In the blur of the painting is a woman; she is nude, and gasping with head outstretched, neck taunt. And if you walk back and forth the woman gasping seems to tilt her head ever so slightly. It is a pure moment captured.
When I think of my novel Permanent Spring Showers, the images and stories in my head all begin with that piece of art.
See, each of the unpredictable plots that make up Permanent Spring Showers is connected to that painting. From the professor frantically trying to hide her affair to the Olympic hopeful who is falling in love with her partner to the painter himself, a charismatic young man who is pretending to be British and goes only by the name Vince.
Logic would tell you that a dream is not enough to form a book, and jokes can’t last for over three hundred pages. Logic would also say that a painting (that doesn't even exist) couldn’t inspire a novel filled with multiple characters and intertwining plotlines.
But logic would be wrong about all of that.
Sometimes the best writing advice is not to listen to your head and just go along with the flow. If it is a good idea, you’ll find your way to shore.
I hope you check out my new novel Permanent Spring Showers.
Permanent Spring Showers
Is on Sale for $1.99
Until 30th May
Professor Rebecca Stanley-Wilson is having a very bad season. The ramifications of one torrid evening with one of the great upcoming painters of his generation, will not only be felt across her life but over the entire art world. Sexy, funny, and very surprising, Permanent Spring Showers is the tale of one very memorable springtime and how it impacts a group of unique artists and dreamers. From the the hopeful Olympian with the failing marriage to the writer who is creating a new literary movement (through outright manipulation) to the romantic wondering what he did wrong to drive away the love of his life, each tale walks the line between reality and fantasy. And waiting at the end of the line is a very important painting... and possibly the revolver used in the Lincoln Assassination.
“What are you thinking? She’s an escort!”
“I’m in love, Steve. After sitting through the first twenty minutes of this lunch, it’s obvious you certainly still remember what that feeling is like.” He pushed his plate forward.
"But Clark…” I began.
He interrupted, “And it’s not like she wants to do that her entire life, Steve, if that is what is troubling you. She is doing it to pay for college.”
I stopped, the car of my mind shifting gears again. “Wait, did you say ‘is’? Do you mean she is still doing it?”
“Well, times are tough all over,” Clark replied far too calmly for my taste. “Have you seen college tuition rates this year?”
“And she’s really in college?” I asked, shocked. I began to wonder if I was on one of those TV shows and a camera was hidden in a bush nearby me.
My shock was perfectly mirrored by the opposite reflection of the casualness of my brother.
“You didn’t think I would marry an idiot did you, Steve? I need to be mentally challenged, you know that. She is studying education; her dream’s to teach third graders.”
“You’re engaged to a hooker…”
“Escort,” he corrected quickly for a third time.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said sarcastically. “You are engaged to an active escort who wants to be an elementary school teacher?”
“Yes,” Clark said with a dramatic point across the table at me. “And Steve, this is where you come in. You need to help me introduce her to mom and dad.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Scott D. Southard is the author of A Jane Austen Daydream, Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare, My Problem With Doors, Megan, 3 Days in Rome and Me Stuff in addition to his latest release, Permanent Spring Showers. His eclectic writing has also found its way into radio, as Scott was the creator of the radio comedy series The Dante Experience. The production was honored with the Golden Headset Award for Best MultiCast Audio and the Silver Ogle Award for Best Fantasy Audio Production. Scott received his Master's in writing from the University of Southern California. Scott can be found on the internet via his writing blog “The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard" where he writes on topics ranging from writing, art, books, TV, writing, parenting, life, movies, and writing. He even shares original fiction on the site. His blog can be found at http://sdsouthard.com. Scott is also the fiction book reviewer for WKAR's daily radio show Current State.