Creative Spark or Needs Therapy?


David talked on Monday about the creative process and how life, grief, location, joy, and dozens of other things affect the muse-flow. I’ve been gong through something similar (but with very different stimulus) and I thought I’d share exactly how the things I went through on Monday morning stimulated the creative process for me — the things that happened and the way they affected my weird brain. I hate to say it, but for it to make sense, I’ll have to give a travelogue of my touristy morning, but it doesn’t last long.

Once I got over my usual panic at trying to use a snorkel (which activates my hidden, challenged, oft-confronted, always defied, but always returning fears of drowning) I swam with the manatees. They came to us for play. Wild animals wanting to be near humans.  So weird. They are gentle and amazing. And they are HUGE BTW!


First sighting and swim was just after dawn when they are still sleepy and lazy and even the adults are in a good mood. There were four in a mating pod, three males wooing a female at dawn, but they wanted a good morning scratch under their fins and throats and along their bellies (the hubby said, “Well, who doesn’t…”) before they started in on amorous foreplay. One of them wrapped fins around hubby and looked him right in the eyes and hugged him. Had to be the lady manatee, and I can’t say I blame her. They got tired of us after a while and they left, swimming after me (which was weird because I was just off by myself at that point swimming.) They rose up under me one at time in a long line, scooting their bodies along mine as we swam. It was … bizarre. The dive guide was yelling, “Did they swim with you???” And I was gasping, “Yeah, they did. It was awesome! It was freaky but it was awesome.”


Then we found a playful 2 yr juvenile in a different location. It was six feet long. Mama manatee (like 12 feet long) checked us out, decided we were okay to baby-sit her baby, and left him with us for over an hour. She went off to eat. Seriously. Baby would swim after us rolling over and over and asking to bump us or for scratching. He’d get up in a diver’s face and study him. Then gently tap faces. Okay bear with me. This gets to the creative part soon.


Then we went to one of the springheads for the Crystal River and swam (fins and snorkels) hard upstream into crystal clear water to the Three Sisters Spring Head which is in a…well, a grotto buried in the swamp. Here we swam with the cormorants. Okay – that’s my morning. And yes it is unbelievable. Just freaking wonderful. What does all that have to do with writing…?

Here is where my brain went, from fantasy, to mystery, to amusing, to *needs therapy*.


1. Magical kingdom that knows no fear and therefore has no survival mode. Warriors from a nearby kingdom discover the way in through a secret grotto deep in the swamps and steal the prince. The queen has to figure out what to do and how to do it by accessing the latent magic in the grotto. Death and war enter the kingdom. The prince comes back a changed and very dangerous man. Book two – the queen has to decide what to do about her son. Does she kill her only son to keep her kingdom safe? This could be a very dark series, but not one I want to write. I mean, a human people who don’t understand murder and war? I have trouble with the concept.

2. A group of non-humans living among us who are amphibious and who access their world through a spring head by swimming strait to the bottom of the deepest white-sand depression where they push aside the roots that crisscross it and expose the opening at the bottom. And they swim in to the dark. Love the image, but can’t figure where I might go with it. Back-of-brain to stew for a while. For now, it reminds me of an old TV show about an amphibious man.

3. A couple is paddling rented flat water kayaks along a canal looking for manatee and discover a freshly killed body in the middle of the canal. It wasn’t dumped from a plane. It was, um, attached to a tree. There is only one way in and one way out, through the grasses that leave clear evidence of any passage. Their trail in is the only one. How did the killer and the victim get in? And where is the killer now? Thriller or mystery, either way depending on whether or not the killer is still in the swamp with them. This excites my mystery persona who has been brain dead for a while.

4. The president is a huge eco believer, green all the way. But a new mosquito-born virus is attacking humans with 100% mortality rate. The mosquitoes are resistant to normal bug killers. Prez must decide whether to drop a new insecticide onto hundreds of acres of wetlands. It doesn’t dilute out with rain; its breakdown rate is ten years. The poison will kill the mosquitoes and everything else for miles around, including any of the endangered manatees who swim anywhere downstream of the affected acres. Dozens – maybe hundreds – of species will face extinction downstream as the insecticide spreads. He tries several other things and is left with only the unimaginable. The mosquitoes are multiplying at a dangerous rate. What will he do? OK, I like this but I am not ready to write it. Yet.

5. Mermaids, natch. Either overdone or I’m not smart enough to use the images. Darrell Hannah comes to mind, eating a lobster – shell and all.

6. Two species form a symbiotic relationship never seen between their species. Like cattle and cattle birds, the manatees and cormorants start living in common space. What are they doing? (I have no idea, but I can’t get it out of my head.)

7. Amusing short story about a warrior with great legs, wearing a kilt, while trying to swim in a grotto with mermaids. Maybe he’s dreadfully nearsighted (and very lonely) and only thinks they are mermaids.

8. Belly dancer who swims with and makes friends with cormorants, and they appear each morning at her dock to watch as she dances in the dawn. The females start to imitate her actions and the cormorant birthrate goes up really fast.

9. A hirsute muse who is accepted by a pod of manatees as one of their own and who then leaves his struggling writer for the good life in the warm waters of the Crystal River. The lady manatees really love his pasties. Writer gets ticked off and has to start flipping burgers at MickyDees.


Lastly, someone said to write a shot piece about five words, (Sorry I can’t read back who, but I’m on the road the connection is bad) and his were

Lament, Lottery, Criminal, Wrestling, Lizard.

Here’s mine, which occurred to me instantly after reading the comment.

Sir Benjamin read the lament to the people: “The Lizard Prince is wrestling the criminal, the Cormorant Knight, for the Lottery of King. The old king is dead. Long live the new, whomever he may be. Later that day the match took place and the prince easily won, took his rightful place as king, and decreed that henceforth, all males will wear kilts and pasties and red cowboy boots.

Okay, after this it degenerated into hopeless drivel. We, more hopeless and more driveiler.

That’s all folks. (Cue silly movie music)






12 comments to Creative Spark or Needs Therapy?

  • You definately have a creative mind there, Faith! *haha*

    I like the way numbers 1, 3, and 4 where going. Dark and intese are definately in my inbox.

    Ever think about doing deep sea diving?

  • You are so much braver than I. Despite being able to swim since I was a toddler, and having no fear of water at all, I have never been able to relax with a snorkel. 😀

    When we went out to Seattle to visit my husband’s brother, he took us to the Olympic National Forest, where the idea for my first novel (the one that will probably never see the light of day – sorry!) popped into my head almost instantly. It’s so neat how nature can spark creativity like that!

  • I’m with Mark here. I think 3 would make an amazing story. Through some magic into the mix and you’ve got a dark fantasy/mystery thing that would be awesome. You could even use the magic from the Bloodring series and have Thorn find the body…

    The mind works in amazing ways. I spent the morning at a waterfall taking pictures and was thinking about what a wonderful setting it would make for a story. It’s like we can’t help ourselves.

  • I like #1 best. I had been playing with the idea of a warrior race that doesn’t know fear or other emotions back in my Play Phase in 2003/04 – only I didn’t have the skill to write the MC well enough to still make him sympathetic, but who knows … I could go back to that some day, but without the Elves this time. 🙂

  • Oh, and for me your morning would have triggered selkies. They lurk in my creative brain anyway, ready to jump into a novel as soon as I let them (one always got into EAGLE OF THE SEA, but I want those books to be historical fiction).

  • Mark, I can barely make myself use a snorkle. No way would I go deeper than about 10 feet. No freaking way. (shudders)

    Misty, it takes all I can do put my face down and take a breath through the snorkle. And like you, I lived on the water since I was a kid. No fear at all. Except for the snorkle. (more shudders)

    David, I was sorta thinking about a water mage story where Thron was called in to diagnose the nature of the evil yada yada… BloodRing and Seraphs just went back for reprints so I’ll likely have the chance to write more in Thorn’s world. The pub is checking on the numbers because it’s contract time. Fingers crossed. (jumping up and down and dancing because of reprints)

    Gabriele, it is never too late to take up an idea. For Sleep Softly, my AKA used an idea she had come up with back in 1998 (-ish?). A dog brings a stinky tennis shoe to the MC. Inside she sees a human toe… Voila, a thriller is born, though the award it won called it a mystery… Hey, I’m not whining. Point is, ideas linger for years. Suddenly you’ll have the perfect place for it. And because it cured/fermented for so long, it will be great.

  • Definitely not too late, Faith. But I better finish some of my other NiPs before I start Yet Another One. 🙂 Being a slow writer doesn’t help with that, and right now I’m struggling with a very uncooperative character. Don’t know what’s the problem with the girl, one should think a female necromancer who rules her people as stand-in for her missing brother and who faces a plot to replace her with her half-brother should be fun to write, and not a pest. 😉

  • Heh! yeah, I’d made that post with the 5 words. By the by, that sounds like a good story to send to Crossed Genres for the Anthropomorphic issue. 😉

    And I was actually kinda digging the first idea. It puts me in mind vaguely of that Roger Corman film, Battle Beyond the Stars that starred Richard Thomas from the Waltons. They were a peaceful society that did away with war and so didn’t have any means of fighting when someone came and attacked them.

  • I like the first idea as well, and you could really go wild with it. Your queen and others might see the prince as a threat, others might see him as a blessing. There could be trouble in yonder hen house.

    The kiyrians were a non-violent race in my fantasy setting until they were betrayed by the daemek. The kiyrians then split into factions based on how they wanted to deal with the new threat. Lots of problems ensued, both internal and external. Good fun.

  • Judy

    Wow Faith,

    I’ve known lots of folks who have swum with the Manatees, but your experience was the most interactive. Maybe it’s a “spring is in the air” thing or maybe they just liked you!

    I know how you feel about snorkels. I LOVE to scuba dive, don’t mind the regulator at all, but I really dislike snorkeling. I guess it’s counter intuitive or something. I finally broke down and bought a really good snorkel that doesn’t allow water to flood into it. It helps a whole lot and it’s much easier to clear once water gets into it.

    I like #1!

  • Well, don’t know if I’ll ever use these, but the listing was personally instructive. I have a weird brain…