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Ice Cream Brain Toppings
By Jennifer Edelson
September, 2005, 09:54

Fellow INniks clearly related that I am not alone in my anguish and for that ... kiss!
ast month, I asked you all to write in. And while I received enough goodwill to fill up my mush o’ meter (and this column) for weeks, there were several bits of advice and commiseration that really stood out to me.

In a nutshell, here are the three most important things I learned about my fellow INniks. First of all, ya’ll actually read this! Second, you have really good, and more interestingly, similar ideas. Third, some people are just so darn nice and so full of simple common sense you just want to kiss them.

Clearly, I am not alone in my frustration when it comes to the whole ice-cream brain thing.

Next month, I’ll get back to the task of mulling, but for now, I’d like to share a few reflections.

First, the most straightforward, yet soundly right advice I received.

“Maybe, just maybe, all she needs to do is actually write. Write. Something that sounds so simple, yet in actual fact is just as difficult for her and others as it was for Beethoven to write his symphonies.”

Actually, what I just shared are mere snippets from an extremely thoughtful, and inspired “story,” which the very lovely Mr. Rowdy Rhodes wrote and sent to me. Just how wonderful is Rowdy? If you want to devour the full narrative, and you should, go to his column this month and read, read, read.

His support and compassion is a reminder to all writers that we’re in it together, and it made this writer feel a whole lot less lonely.

Onward, the following are a few thoughts from Zorba, a reader with a cool name and a few simple ideas.

“Inspiration to write specific pieces is so much more difficult than abstractly writing the great American novel, but the main thing that works for me is to just write the first thing that comes to mind while focusing on the topic -- don't think about words, just feel the message you want and start going -- keep my editing mind turned off and suspend criticism. Let the ideas unfold in front of you, by trial and error.

Ignore perfection, and just try to get clear what I want to say. Other times I have to prime my 'inspiration' by reading a few pages of another good book.

When painting and jewelry making don't inspire, how about adding music -- it stirs my moods and they get my juices working, e.g. Leonard Cohen helps me get reflective, Beethoven's 9th arouses my energy to feel/think big, Sade subdues, Elton John just makes me feel alive, Shania Twain revives my feminine side.”

Along the same lines, reader Mark speaks to the power music has to inspire fluidity.

“The one thing that gets me past the type of stuff you talked about in your August’s IN column is music. I can always become inspired to write by sitting and listening to my favourite tunes and while enjoying the words and sounds I think about the effort, the amount of energy, that goes into creating something as wonderful as my selected songs.

It usually prompts me to get to the keyboard and make a stab at getting sentences to sing out, ring out, put forth something of interest to the world. But most importantly, something of interest to myself. If the sentence doesn't play out well for me it gets deleted straight up because, to me, it means that I'm trying to force what it is that I want to spill and not accomplishing it a manner that I find pleasing.

You know what they say; write, re-write, re-write, re-write and finally edit. Then read the piece a week later and see if it still grabs your attention. If it does, then you've done your best.”

INnik Rachiel also had a good idea.

“Have you thought of letting someone read the novel, someone not related to the writing business? I did that with a story that I could never figure out how to end. I had the progression, and the climax, but I could never figure out what I wanted these two characters to do in the end. I told my friend the story, and she told me from her point of view, how she, as a reader, felt it should end. While I have not taken her advice to a 'T" it did give me a fresh perspective on a story I have been writing since the dawn of time.”

And this next one just made me laugh. So thank you “Jonni” . . .

“Your subtitle drew me in, but the title did not. I was hoping for some advice about when to stop myself... seven years writing, rewriting, editing... but alas, just shared frustration.

Your metaphors, however, were beautiful. But a butt melding into metalwork grooves was too damn visual. And why do you hate self-sustaining democracy -- you want to go back to wealthy patrons? But I shall avoid becoming politico. Is the ipsa from International Political Science Association or some other meaning?

(FYI, “res ispa” or “raceyipsa,” is a Latin term used in law, which essentially means; the fact that something happened is proof enough of its existence (or in other words that a problem existed).

On when to stop, I only find one guide -- time. When I let it sit for three or four months, it looks better.”

So after reading your comments, here’s what I learned -- the golden rule is, just sit down and do it. Then put it away, wait it out and rock out (or mellow out) to tunes.

It’s a formula that works for me.

And thank you! Especially those of you who struck a chord -- there is actually one thing that gets me raring to write regardless -- music, or more specifically, the Psychedelic Furs.

Mark, you’re so right -- Richard Butler makes me want to “to sing out, ring out, put forth something of interest to the world,” because his voice and lyrics remind me there are other people out there full of longing.

And 20 years later, he still inspires pretty intense wanderlust feelings.
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Jennifer Edelson is a Minnesota attorney and legal writing professor. Her writing has appeared on all the finest refrigerators in the Twin Cities. Jennifer can be emailed at:

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