My son Chet sent me the link to this video on creativity, which pulled lots of thoughts I’m having right now into place.
The importance of connectivity
A post I wrote on a blog about searching for information on the Theatre of the Marais in 17th century Paris was happened upon by John Golder, a scholar in 17th century French theatre. He himself had been surfing the Net for information about the Theatre of the Marais. He read my blog and contacted me through my website. “Can I help?” Magic words!
Since then I’ve been on a very steep creative and learning curve, thanks to John … and thanks to this thing called connectivity. Had I not put my questions out there, had I not made myself available, I would not have learned what I’m learning today.
The importance of desperately seeking
Last spring, in Ottawa, at the Writers’ Union AGM, I had lunch with novelist Frances Itani. I said: “You know how when you’re writing a novel, the answers just fall into your lap?” She knew exactly what I meant. There is something desperately seeking about the process of writing a novel: Seek and ye shall find.
In the early drafts of my novel, my character makes reference, at the end, to the writer Madame de Villedieu. But that was the only mention, and I wondered about that.
Now, in the midst of my third draft, my character’s mother has just joined the Hôtel de Bourgogne, another theatre company, and I needed to know what play this company was about to produce. After some time yesterday I found the name of the play, and after more time yet I finally found the author of the tragedy: Madame de Villedieu.
It could be said that this morning’s work researching Villedieu—instead of writing—was a wasted day, but I don’t think so. One thing I learned was that Villedieu was not only an originator of historical novels, but that she worked openly, communicating with her readers and the salons of the day…which comes around to the subject of this post: the importance of connectivity. The video mentions the Paris salons bringing about innovation because of the connectivity encouraged there.
Click, click, click!
Madame de Villedieu is apt only to have a walk-on part in the novel I’m writing now, but I’m tucking her away for the future. For a long time, I’ve been wanting to write a novel about La Grande Mademoiselle, the King’s cousin—trying to write, I should say, for I’ve hundreds of pages in a drawer—but I could never seem to find the right key, the way into her story. It’s possible that Villedieu, who dedicated a play and a novel to this eccentric feminist, might just be that key.