Sunday, January 31, 2010


I was walkin' along
Mindin' my business
When out of an orange-colored sky
Crash! Bam! Alakazam . . . *

Those who know that song (and by now, is there anyone but me?) remember that it has to do with love at first sight. But it also pretty well describes what happens when the pieces of some play, novel, short story, whatever I've been writing suddenly rearrange themselves and whammo, the illusive key to a character, event or entire plot is slammed into my hand. If I'm writing an article or some other piece of nonfiction, then the way to approach it, or the order that the jumble of pieces should go in, suddenly becomes crystal clear.
I'm sure many of you in the same racket have experienced this. I wonder if you've also found that this almost always happens when you weren't even thinking about that piece of writing, or probably about any writing at all. It's exciting, feels magical.
What caused me to bring it up is that today, for the very first time, while I was walking home from a long, inspiring Shabbos lunch, not thinking about writing, it occurred to me that the sensation is not comfortable That had never crossed my mind before.
I'm not suggesting its comparable to childbirth,
which people often describe as worth the experience because of the result. Unlike childbirth, we're talking a nanosecond of discomfort. Maybe it's more like getting struck by lightening, and then, the next split second, there you are in full possession of your superb discovery, and with none of the ill effects associated with your brief accident.
I suppose that's why I thought of the lyrics to that song today for the first time in a whole lot of years. Crash, Bam, indeed. But not for long.
* "Orange Colored Sky" by Milton DeLugg and Willie Stein, has been recorded since the 50's by some of the most popular entertainers of each succeeding generation. Nat King Cole, Danny Kaye and Doris Day each recorded it. Then, so did Burt Ward (TV's Batman) -- the latter version produced by Frank Zappa. It was also sung by Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman) with the help of several Muppets, on "The Muppet Show".


  1. I also experience creative inspiration at the oddest moments, but the journey leading up to such a discovery has usually been paved with effort. It's just that sometimes when I'm really laboring over my work, I shift into neutral and can't move forward. Then when I'm ordering crab meat salad at the local supermarket - Crash, Bam - Alakazam.

  2. I know what you mean! For me, the moment has come a few times after I was staring at a piece of writing and trying to revise. I look at the darn thing, sure it will never come to anything and this paper would be better put to use shredded into tiny pieces and used for mulch, when suddenly the order--or theme, or element that will bring it all together--suddenly appears. And then I decide, on second thought, that I'm going to take that shredded paper and use it as confetti over my Pulitzer party!

    Then again, I've also had a great idea come to me in the shower, when the most painful thing I've done is suds my hair... you really never know.