Thursday, January 25, 2007

Flicking through The Herder Dictionary of Symbols, I came across the entry for lightning (below) and was fascinated by the first line: "a symbol or expression...of divine power, which appears as terrifying or creative."

We've all heard the stories - or experienced ourselves - the spark of inspiration, a kind of lightning bolt, and that feeling of being in the moment, going with the flow, etc. That's the positive side of that lightning. But what about the terrifying side? Have you had ideas, inspirations, which have terrified you? Or at the least, been deeply disconcerting?

I have two examples. Sometime last week, I realized with a jolt (ha!) that not one, but two, characters were going to die in my current story, and I took it very personally for some reason. It scared me - why would I do that? Why would I think of doing that to a character, am I a sadist? The lightning bolt of inspiration was frightening in that moment.

When I was writing my first novel, I wrote the first chapter without a real idea of where I was going. Then, about a month later, the ideas for the plot came fast and furious - that flash of inspiration - and I stopped and thought: this is kinda weird, would anyone get this? And then I thought: oh crap, am I going to write a novel? It was a different kind of terrifying.

So what about you? Have you had flashes of inspiration that were both creative and terrifying?

ascham: a box for keeping bows and arrows dry

Myths, symbols, & folklore
lightning: "A symbol or expression in many cultures of divine power, which appears as terrifying or creative. In many cultures lightnin and thunder were thought to be caused by the highest god (e.g., Jupiter/Zeus, Indra). In the Bible lightning is associated with God's wrathful judgment; a punitive God of fire, lightning, and thunder is depicted. Zeus, the hurler of lightning bolts, can be seen as a fructifying, illuminating deity as well as a punishing one. Particularly in the Orient, a relationship exists between lighning and storms or rain; hence the symbolic connection of lightning and fertility, and the phallic significance of lightning. Until recently, people in some areas of Asia and Europe have made milk offerings to pacify lightning." (~Herder)

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