Overflow

Rabbit - lookNon-writers often ask where my ideas come from.  As a follow-up I’m sometimes also asked if I ever run out of ideas, or fear that I someday might.  This is possibly the easiest answer ever.

No.

I don’t.  Know why?  Because every time I finish writing a novel, in the next few days / weeks I have at least two completely new ideas for novels.  Most of these ideas develop into fully fledged stories with characters and plots I’m passionate about.  I’m not entirely sure why this happens.  Maybe it’s because, suddenly, a significant amount of room has been freed up in my head which is allowed to be filled with new thoughts and ideas.  Maybe it’s because writing a novel requires a lot of creative energy, yet when the story is done it’s impossible to just turn it off, so the energy flows straight into something else.  Maybe it’s because I’m a little bit manic.  Either way, it means my ideas are growing exponentially, in a way that I’ll never be able to keep up with.  That notion kind of thrills me, but also kind of terrifies me.  It also makes me wish I didn’t need to sleep so many hours a day.

It also reminds me of a wonderful quote, by Gabriel Zaid that goes something like:

Books are published at such a rapid rate that they make us exponentially more ignorant.

Exponentially ignorant.  Love it.  I’m fighting that losing battle by reading several books a week.  Why not join me?

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10 Responses to “Overflow”


  1. 1 sherylgwyther February 23, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Wouldn’t it be fascinating (for scientific purposes, of course) to attach electrodes to your head when you experience that surge of creative energy, Kath??? Wonder what the picture would look like?

  2. 2 Katherine Battersby February 24, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Interesting question Sheryl (although I’m glad you specified for scientific purposes rather than just for fun!). I would love to know more about the creative brain – it’s something that’s always fascinated me. I have been in a few studies before actually – for handedness and brain laterality.

  3. 3 duckofalltrades February 24, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    How true this is. I call it the “Monkey on a vine” effect. Whenever I’m swinging from a vine (coming up with ideas/stories)it is much easier to reach out and grab the next vine. A monkey in motion stays in motion.

  4. 4 Chris February 25, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Interesting thought, duck. As a songwriter I find that the creative juices are definitely like a hot water tap. If you turn it off, you end up just pouring unuseful cold water down the drain for a while until you get to the heat you were after. You have to keep it running to keep moving. If you’re in the regular habit of having what’s inside come out, you can keep doing it.

    With that in mind, mine definitely tend to come out in bursts. A large string of writing, then a period of practise and improvement and development in the performance end to bring what I’ve written to its full potential. Then back to the book to bring out the new material. Three or four song bursts tend to work the best, over a period of two to three weeks.

  5. 5 Katherine Battersby February 25, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Duck, I LOVE the monkey analogy. Permission to borrow it next time I’m talking about this? It perfectly captures how I feel when it’s happening too – I’m just a monkey on a vine, swinging between ideas with little control over which vine comes my way.

    And Chris, the tap analogy works for me too. Especially letting the cold flow before you get to the hot (ie. good stuff). Often the first ideas I get just run down the drain, while others stay in my mind and grow into something exciting.

  6. 6 duckofalltrades February 25, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Miss Batersby, feel free to borrow it and use it for yourself anytime you wish!

    Great analogy as well Chris. This is all very true. It use to worry me to go through non creative spells…then I learned to relax during these times off knowing that once my brain kicked into gear, I would be along for the ride and their would be no relaxing.

  7. 7 jane, candid February 26, 2009 at 2:02 am

    “Books are published at such a rapid rate”… and that is just the writing that makes it to publication. As a new writer, I am more astounded every day by the infinite quantity of writing going on on the internet and/or through publication — as I try to comprehend the scope of it, it makes me wonder how the human brain can come up with so many different stories in so many voices. How do all those monkeys keep swinging and not run into each other? When so much has already been written about every topic in the world, how can there always be something new to say? It’s the loaves and fishes of words — I find writing to be a little miracle.

  8. 8 Katherine Battersby February 28, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Such thoughts overwhelm me too, Jane. And the image of all those monkeys swinging around on vines made me smile! Writing is indeed a little miracle – I’m so happy to be a part of it even in a small way.

  9. 9 Madeline Stephenson March 25, 2009 at 5:23 am

    I read once that writers are gods. They are the only people who can create something from nothing. Maybe this is why so many people are drawn to writing of all types. Anyone else see “Stranger than Fiction”? Great movie for writers, I think.

  10. 10 Katherine Battersby March 26, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Creating whole worlds can certainly make you feel a little ‘all powerful’. And I love Stranger than Fiction! A brilliant movie. Funny and sad and sweet and in a way, terrifying for authors…


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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

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