I was invited to participate in a new blogging collective. Our introductory prompt is to describe my creative process in terms of the construction of a building / structure. You can read more at “Firstly,”.
My cousin had this box of Legos when I was a kid. I hesitate to use this analogy, because kids today buy Legos by the kit and not by the bucket, squinting at schematics and custom-shaped parts designed, as far as I can tell, to leach imagination from the psyche. Our Legos, by contrast, barely fit in an under-bed box, were by no means a complete set (many feet were maimed when they discovered stray blocks buried in the carpet), and were under no circumstances circumstances accompanied by instructions. When we wanted to build the Millennium Falcon we just cobbled together an approximation — from memory — that was both flight ready and, let’s be honest, more in keeping with the spirit of Han Solo than the officially licensed Lego-by-numbers merchandise on the shelves today.
I would love to tell you that my creative process is like the holodeck, sprung full-grown from my brain, ready to disengage the safety protocols and surprise everyone aboard, but my world just ain’t that shiny. Instead I’ve got this box of Legos, sharp edged and analog, probably missing more than a few essential pieces, and abandoned, for months at a time, under the bed. You may have noticed this is my first blog entry of 2014; you may also have noticed there was only one last year, and it was a fake.
When I do unearth my frayed cardboard box and scatter its contents upon the floor (the only true way to begin a project), I often find half-assembled shapes, mysterious even to me, and I wonder where I might have misplaced the plans. There is a choice: tear down these ghostly figures and start again, or attempt salvage. It’s not really a choice, though, because during demolition I find that irreducible sliver, two thin bricks stuck together, at the center of the work.
Thus begins construction of the labyrinth proper. Among the rubble is my dome-headed Daedalus, a clever architect adept at concocting the something from the nothing, trying not to think too hard about waxen wings. It is unclear, even after all the tales, whether he deliberately obfuscates the way or is himself merrily lost between the walls. In any case he adores above all the satisfying click of two bricks interlocking, and before long he has slotted together a jangled thicket. He roots his unshod feet upon a freshly laid Lego stud and refuses to budge.
There is a way through the maze. Even saying so is an act of faith. I have little truck with calling a muse a muse — I prefer to flatter neither myself nor inspirations’s caprice — but here I am speaking of little plastic people, so let’s say what happens next is that I call upon cup-handed Ariadne to thread my way from the entrance back to the center. The knot is already cinched about my waist before I think to ask how Lego rope works.
Here be monsters. My instructions about avoiding minotaurs were quite explicit but Ariadne has a soft spot for beasts with the head of an essay and the body of a short story. I get that, it’s hard to tell them apart sometimes. The shapes look the same and in the dark I can’t tell the green bricks from the red. Deeper inside the walls, though, I can hear the real monsters skulking about. I mean the true nasties, with unmotivated characters for asses and logical fallacies where their heads should be. I’m no prude but bull fucking is beyond the pale, no matter how how come-hither Daedalus made his cow-contraption’s hips swing for the queen. To be honest, I don’t have a very keen desire to see what a Lego beast’s junk looks like up close. At least, not while I’m working.
I won’t sell Ariadne short, though; the path through the labyrinth is clear, monsters and all.