Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Joseph Heller on the process of imagination

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I don’t understand the process of imagination—though I know that I am very much at its mercy. I feel that these ideas are floating around in the air and they pick me to settle upon. The ideas come to me; I don’t produce them at will. They come to me in the course of a sort of controlled daydream, a directed reverie. It may have something to do with the disciplines of writing advertising copy (which I did for a number of years), where the limitations involved provide a considerable spur to the imagination…

I have to be alone. A bus is good. Or walking the dog. Brushing my teeth is marvelous—it was especially so for Catch-22. Often when I am very tired, just before going to bed, while washing my face and brushing my teeth, my mind gets very clear…and produces a line for the next day’s work, or some idea way ahead.

Joseph Heller, to The Paris Review

(Note: Today is my final panel at Chicon 7: “Stalking the Elusive Story Idea,” at 3:00 pm, also featuring Vylar Kaftan, Jay Lake, Stephen Leigh, and Jacqueline Lichtenberg. I’ll also be at the Hugo Awards!)

Written by nevalalee

September 2, 2012 at 9:50 am

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