I’m wondering whether I can claim water bills as a work expense. I’m sure ours are going to be astronomical. My husband gives me that look when I emerge from the bathroom close to an hour after I went in. I scramble for excuses. I had to shave my legs! (How long are your legs?!) I had to wash my hair! (How much hair is there to wash?!) It’s a bit of a running argument between us. The real answer is, plainly and simply, I got distracted.
I don’t know about you but as soon as I turn on the taps and the sound of running water fills my ears, I am in a different world. A world full of ideas and characters and plots and sagas that have me utterly mesmerised. Every time I get into the shower I remind myself – don’t be too long – but then I’m in there and I’m warm and cocooned by rushing water and the reminder completely vacates my head. Minutes go by. A lot of minutes. I enter a different dimension in which time is no consideration. In the shower characters I am working on become so clear; their layers come to me, their pasts – what their parents are like, the kind of childhood they had, who their first love was. They become richer and more multi-dimensional and I suddenly feel as though I know them and I get them. I tell you, it’s better than a soap opera, my brain in a shower.
When I am writing problems with the plot will appear that I can’t figure out how to fix. I read my work over and over and know it’s not right but don’t know how to make it better. It’s a little like trying to find Wally in a Where’s Wally. You know he is there, you know how good it’s going to be when you find the stripey little blighter, but he’s evasive and irritating. You’ve got to step away…..but you can’t….but you must…and so the conflict goes on. When there is a problem with the plot or my characters feel a little “off” there is just no better way to fix it than getting into that shower and letting the answer come to me rather than chasing it.
Of course, I am not the first person to make the observation that great ideas come whilst in the shower. In fact, a little research led me to this waterproof notepad for jotting down your showering inspirations! I’m not sure about a notepad in the shower. I wonder if staring at a notepad might make the spontaneous ideas dissipate. For me the whole point is that I feel free of the obligation to make notes / lists in the shower. I’m off the clock, as it were. Besides, words aren’t what come to me in the shower. Images are what come to me in the shower. Little clips of characters speaking with each other in a hallway while a party is taking place in another room, the light of the morning streaming in the window as one character reaches for another’s hand, the face of a character realising something bright and true. It’s all so vivid and yes sometimes I think – damn, I need a way to capture this stuff! – and other times the beauty of it is to let it slide by, trusting that it will serve its purpose or reappear in time.
As you can see, I didn’t put any shower photos into this post. You don’t wanna see that business. Instead a few snaps just like the pictures that flash through my mind while the warm water rains down and makes prunes of my fingertips. Images that are off centre, unposed and rich with meaning. Characters that don’t know they are being watched. Sideways glimpses into a life.
The way I see it I might waste a bit of water but every minute of my shower is worth something. If my water bills aren’t claimable as a work expense then I’m notching them up as a worthy investment.
Where do your best ideas find you? What do you consider to be a good investment for your creativity?