Friday, July 25, 2008


There is an article in this week's NEW YORKER magazine entitled "The Eureka Hunt, Why do good ideas come to us when they do?" about the science of the "insight experience", discovering exactly what goes on in the brain when people have "Aha!" moments. It is a long, complicated article referencing medical studies involving fMRI brain scanners, EEGs, and anterior superior temporal gyrus. Most of it I didn't understand. But what I did understand was the "Aha!" moment itself.

As I've confessed, I've been lazy this summer -- unambitious, unmotivated, uninspired. Until Monday. On Monday I began to write. I was inspired by the post by J.L. Finnell and particularly by Robin's comment about the glass being half full. Was it an Aha! moment or simply a swift kick in the pants? Whatever it was it worked. I parked myself at the computer Monday morning and started writing. My character started talking to me, slowly at first, but steadily. And then a new character popped into my head (he'd been there before but not fully formed) and now he won't shut up!

I wonder what was going on in my brain when I read Robin's comment. Was my right anterior superior temporal gyrus stimulated, or was it my left? Why did her comment strike me as so inspiring? Why would such a simple statement (no offense, Robin), makes such a huge impression? It's made me think about my writing, and what inspires me. What makes me want/need to write despite the disappointments, rejections, and frustrations? I don't know. All I know is that the Aha! moments happen. They are real and glorious. And as long as that happens, the glass will always be half full.

Thank you J.L. and Robin!


  1. You're welcome, Meg! I like the idea of having an epiphany about rejections; that each one is just a stepping stone to landing the right agent or publisher.

    Btw, my husband used the say the same thing about his ex-girlfriends--that each one was just a stepping stone to finding me. (I wonder which is higher, the number of publishers remaining or the number of his ex-girlfriends.)

    But I digress. :-)

  2. I'm glad I'm an inspiration...even when I'm feeling less than inspired at the moment. Haven't had my coffee yet.

    Keep going! Butt in chair and create!

  3. Hey, who cares where it comes from or what part of the brain it activates? As you say, just revel in the Aha! moment when it occurs.

    Inspiration can't be predicted. I suppose that's why writers are supposed to always have their antennas out. Searching. Searching.

  4. And that's why Robin now has her super duper card those moments of inspiration can't run away! Me--I use those tiny Staples spiral notebooks.