Years and years ago, Dreamwood started with the image of a young girl looking through her fatherâ€™s microscope. I knew the setting was another time. And I knew ghosts were hovering just outside the frame. Yay, a story.
My ideas usually start like this: from images, or I hear a voice speaking a line. A scene or picture will arrive in my head, like a mysterious postcard sent from story world.
Iâ€™ve had these story visions happen on public transportation, when Iâ€™m just waking up, during acupuncture naps. Theyâ€™re pure gifts when they bring a new story. But I would sometimes have them when I was trying to push through a stuck point in Dreamwood.
It got me thinking. Could I order my subconscious around? Or at least make it more productive. I donâ€™t have all the unbroken daydreamy time I had when I was younger. Iâ€™ve got to make creativity as efficient as possible. Especially now Iâ€™m trying to write something new.
So I began to imagine a person, a personal creativity assistant (I guess you could call her a muse) who could go into my subconscious and bring me back the story stuff I needed. I was riding BART one morning into San Francisco to work and I asked for her and she appeared. Sheâ€™s a glowing slyph, a punk Tinkerbell with jagged, anime hair, unlaced engineersâ€™ boots, cut-off shorts, and a tank top. Sheâ€™s a little bit like a cartoon character. Only sheâ€™s not Tinkerbell, but â€œBell.â€
â€œBell,â€ I say, picturing her, â€œgo into my subconscious and find the things I need for this story.â€
So then I see her giving me a kind of aye-aye captain salute and getting ready to go spelunking in my subconscious, which is sometimes like a sunken treasure ship, sometimes like an old gothic library, sometimes like a stuffed full attic or treasure vault. I picture candlesticks and piles of books, maps, old coins, stuffed dodos, ladiesâ€™ boots and mouldering velvet dresses.
Iâ€™ve been sending Bell to work before I go to sleep and in the mornings as I walk to work. Sometimes Iâ€™ll ask her for something specific. But other times Iâ€™ll simply check in with her, and drop into whatever sheâ€™s found for me like Iâ€™m gazing on a scene through a crystal ball.