# # A Question of Creativity

Brother, I Can See Your Skull.

Brother, I Can See Your Skull. - The Coreyshead Blog

A Question of Creativity

Where do ideas come from and what do they say about the thinker?

I recently had someone in an official capacity question my character because of a character I created.

The story in question is about a disturbed and dangerous individual’s tragic reaction to the attentions of a would-be missionary. The narrative starts out ugly and only gets worse -and I don’t turn my eye from the deranged and gory details.

I wrote this story in the mid 90’s when I was involved with a writer’s group composed of mainly horror-fiction fans. Exercises between us would sometimes boil down to a literary gross-out contest and we had a lot of fun trying to outdo and outrage each other’s jaded sensibilities.

I went through my H.P. Lovecraft/Stephen King phase years ago and still have praise for some of their works but, in general, have never been much of a horror fan. These days I rarely read fiction of any kind and write, if at all, autobiographically.

Not that I am attempting to apologize for what I wrote.

I like this little piece of fluff. It came out much as I hoped it would and, when I re-edited it for the web in 2004, I made only a few, minor changes to it to flesh it out a bit more. In my opinion, it is one of my more successful pieces of fiction. I understand and agree that it has little, if any, redeeming social value but, then I don’t believe it to be detrimental to anyone, either. It is an odd and twisted little daisy growing by the side of the river is all. Look at it as you pass or don’t. Whatever.

Still, when someone looks you straight in the eye and asks you in an accusatory tone what, exactly, the point is, what you were thinking, why would you write something like that, well … it makes you contemplate the correlation between thought and thinker.

“Where do you get your ideas?”

I have always been perplexed and annoyed by this question yet, in any open forum featuring a creative person in the spotlight, you are bound to hear it – and this points out a fundamental difference between those of us who are creative and those of us who aren’t.

Creativity is enigmatic to those who aren’t possessed by it and it is not uncommon for creativity to cause suspicion and fear among those who don’t understand it. (I would argue that everyone is creative in some way – it is symptomatic of our species – but clearly, some are far more able with and aware of their creative powers than others)

Still, I prefer the question “where do you get your ideas?” to “why do you get your ideas?”

Years back, I had a friend, a very good friend, stun me by suggesting that people like Stephen King and myself are crazy. That’s right: not creative, not gifted but nuts. I came this close to asking the individual to get the hell out of my house and never come back. I was shocked and horrified: here was the stuff of book-burnings and witch hunts happily reclining on my couch, drinking my beer, and calling me friend (well, crazy friend).

But now wait a minute. I did, among other things, create a deranged, homicidal, cannibal character, didn’t I? How could I conceive of such a thing unless I was slightly unhinged? Aren’t thoughts like that more than a little suspect? If I’m willing to think it, does this not indicate that I am perhaps capable of similar behavior? What other secret thoughts prance gaily through this warped noggin of mine as I walk casually past the butcher knives in the kitchen store?

This is the same kind of thought process that many people use to condemn homosexuals, suggesting that individuals capable of doing something as revolting as cornholing each other are therefore likely to engage in other, culturally unacceptable behaviors, such as pedophilia – this despite the fact that pedophilia has proven to be almost entirely restricted to otherwise heterosexual individuals. In other words, it doesn’t follow, folks.

Well then, aren’t the thoughts themselves dangerous? I mean, what if someone who wasn’t capable of understanding the difference between right and wrong read the story and decided it sounded like a good idea?

If that was the case then we would also need to expunge our history books and newspapers of any such potentially inflammatory material. And we’d better get to work on the dictionary and bible as well, pulling out those dangerous phrases that describe or recount such things as slaughter, murder, incest, rape, and war.

The simple fact of the matter is that creativity in and of itself is not dangerous – and dangerously crazy people are a threat with or without the influence of others.

But those thoughts! It cannot be a healthy head that breeds them. A man of that nature should very obviously be kept from children.

And I would counter that, as we have learned from the clergy, what you do publicly often has little to no bearing on how you conduct yourself behind closed doors. Priests can be predatory pedophiles and people like Stephen King can raise numerous healthy children.

Here’s an exercise:

Imagine a polka-dotted moon made entirely of wadded up handkerchiefs, peopled by little, orange humanoids known as “Bleens”, that circles the earth at such a low orbit that we can get there by bicycle.

Now, the above paragraph doesn’t mean to suggest that such a thing really exists, nor that I believe such a thing really exists. It doesn’t mean that I wish such a thing existed, that I am planning to attempt to create such a thing, or that I think such a thing could or should exist. I am just being silly and, maybe, trying to get you to smile or, at the very least, picture such a ridiculosity in your mind. Just for the fun and exercise of it, that’s all. (were your polka-dots red and were the Bleens in pointy hats? Mine were)

Now, try imagining a young boy who discovers a stray dog that has the same facial scarring as his deceased father. The dog appears out of nowhere a year after the untimely death of the boy’s father and follows the boy home, no matter how much it is shooed away. The more time the boy spends with this smart, dutiful stray, the more convinced he becomes that the dog is his father returned to protect and comfort him. Unfortunately, the family cannot afford to keep the dog and, besides, the boy’s mother is disturbed by her son’s unnatural attachment to and beliefs regarding the animal.

Is that story concept okay? Does it redeem its creator? What if I promise a bittersweet, spiritual ending? Can I get out of the cage now?

These are all just ideas: some silly, some not, all intentionally designed to trigger certain emotions or thoughts, to impart certain ideas. A momentary respite from the reality of your workaday world. That’s all. They can’t hurt you and they don’t indicate a person who will, either.

I wrote “For the Love of Pete” for the fun and shock value of it, not because the protagonist is someone who I think would be a good friend to have or emulate (what? are you crazy?).

I have an occasionally morbid curiosity and enjoyed trying to imagine the thoughts and feelings of this sad and terrible fictional character. I am fascinated by individuality and have been ever since I realized as a young child that what tastes good to one person may taste terrible to another.

What makes us tick? Why do people sometimes do horrible things? What would it be like to be truly and dangerously insane.

I hope I never know the answer to that last question and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that my fictional character’s thoughts are ridiculously off-base for one in that condition – but I wouldn’t be disturbed to find out that they were dead on, either. I’d be proud of my imagination, for that is all it is.

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