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The Creative Process

The Overture

In each moment there’s a specific place for all the things that are alive. But there’s also a place for the things that aren’t quite alive. Some have aspects of life: Lines that take shape and hint at forms that don’t exist. Some are discarded fragments of what we create: Unfinished ideas and thoughts. Other things have seemed to disappear completely, slipping away into a hidden and silent place of solitude. These dead things – that aren’t quite alive – have found a small pocket of space and time in which they can seem almost, nearly alive. I found one of these dead pockets inside me. And I found it spilled out.

The Paperwork

In a city locked in space, stuck to a spinning marble, and rotating around a spewing giant of flame, a corporate cubicle drone sharpened a wooden pencil to a precision point. He tapped the spear end of the pencil on his wooden desk and shuffled a stack of paper into a perfect tower. Tap, tap, tap. He took the top paper from the tower. Tap, tap, tap. He glanced at his analog watch and, at precisely 7:45 am on Tuesday, exploded into a thousand pieces.

The Goldfish

Five stories above the busy city street, a solitary shadow peers down from an open window, surveying the splattered remains of a former Hollywood starlet. Police lights surround the onlookers with a red-and-blue disco as the roar of the crowd swells to an indistinct choir or voices. A pair of sweating hands grip the window sill. The voices in the hallway outside the fifth-story apartment grow louder. The door crunches in, splintering from its hinges. Dozens of police boots storm across the fallen door and grind splinters into the carpet. The sweaty hands rise as the shadowy figure turns to face the intrusion. Flashlights split the room into geometric shapes. And, from across the room, a goldfish telepathically communicates with a murderer who just pushed his wife from a five-story window. “Why’d you do that?” the goldfish asks.


What a person thinks about when he’s caught in the silent, frozen fraction of a second between one moment and the next says a lot about who he is. The corporate cubicle drone thought about art. He stared blankly at an empty form and wondered at how paint scraped on canvas could elicit such powerful responses of feeling and thought. He wondered at how color, shape and form draw from some cavernous, primal depth within our souls. He thought about music, then dance, then poetry. In a seemingly timeless eon that stretched forward infinitely, the cubicle drone drank deep from the well of collective, accumulated human emotion and intellect. When he was drunk on the bliss and sorrow of human consciousness, he slammed into the next moment, and exploded into a thousand pieces. In the next one-thirty-third of a second there was a sound like a bullfrog singing an aria. Then silence.

The End of the World

Mrs. Garrison lived in apartment 331, on the floor above a strange recluse who wrote spy novels under the coincidental pen name, Eleanor Garrison. Of the dozens of novels the recluse had written, the best-selling one was about the end of the world. Though it was critically panned – being described as a “confusing slog wrapped in a wet towel” and “time that should’ve been used to clean out the gutters” – the book was completely and spectacularly accurate about the details regarding the end of the world. Unfortunately, the book was written in a labyrinthine style that made comprehending the text impossible, but made rereads compulsory. Last Tuesday, a reader having breakfast outdoors decoded the critical passage that read, “The woman in apartment 331 left her water on…”

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