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In an Author's Mind
Mar 1, 2009

Rational, Romantic, and Regular were three roommates. They were all new writers with splendid ambitions. They all dreamt of displaying the best of their talents one day. For this, they had different styles and writing strategies. Rational, who had graduated from the school of science, always sought a sound reason for writing, and did not schedule a time for writing otherwise. Romantic, on the other hand, had not had any formal education. But she had been very well trained by her parents to become a keen observer both materially and spiritually. So, Romantic reserved ample time to wait for inspiration and to dress it in the most beautiful words whenever it came. Regular, a graduate of a military school, split his days into well-defined slots, and had a regular time for writing.

Reductionist, their next-door neighbor, was editor-in-chief of a highly recognized magazine. He was kind of older, and so had rather a fatherly attitude toward them. Not surprisingly, each of the three writers had one thing in mind-to catch the attention of their next-door neighbor, which was a really tough job. Having seen thousands of different articles in his life, and still editing several of them every day, Reductionist had become very good at categorizing ideas and pieces of writing. So, it was really difficult, if not impossible, to come up with something that he would call original. This state of Reductionist caused competition, and sometimes jealous actions, among the three writers.

Reductionist used to invite his neighbors to accompany him whenever he was invited to a program related to writing. Rational especially liked them because he learned new things from different people. Romantic loved staying alone, but doing this in different settings opened ways for new inspiration. Regular, on the other hand, was not very thrilled at the idea of traveling because it disturbed his daily schedule. But he thought it was OK being with friends as part of a bigger schedule that spans a larger time.

At the end of one of those trips, they were traveling back home on a dark and rainy night. As they covered each mile of the road, they talked about various topics. After some random ones, they started talking about a topic that really interested all of them: writing. They discussed different issues surrounding the main idea of writing, such as how to start writing, how to write well, how to make your words carry meanings that would satisfy the mind and the heart, and so on. When it came to the issue of inspiration and new ideas, Romantic told a short story:

“A farmer had two fields. He started cultivating both. After the first season, he saw that one of the lands was yielding produce but the other one didn’t. Several consecutive trials only confirmed the quality of the fertile one. The more trials the farmer made, the faster he received the produce and the more he reaped. Then the farmer decided not to use the barren field anymore.

“The inspirations are gifts from God. He plants seeds in our hearts in that way. People who value and pay due respect to inspiration are like the fertile field in the story. The farmer enjoys the produce and uses that field more. People who ignore inspiration or postpone dealing with it are the barren land. They don’t foster the seed, and the farmer ceases using them.”

After the apt parable, everybody was submerged in silent thought for a while. Then Romantic suggested, “Why don’t we pull over and talk about this all together with peace of mind? I’m really enjoying this.” But Rational did not share her perspective: “You know, I really would love to, but we have a long way to go. It is not wise to stop and forget about our trip. What are you going to do when we are all sleepy and not able to continue on the way? And what is wrong with talking while traveling, anyway?”

At the words of Rational, Romantic started crying: “You never listen to me; you always want me to forget my heart. I feel like I am among friends who are like dead statues.” Irritated by the words of Romantic, Regular took a turn, but talked in a way so as to manage the feelings of everybody: “Hey, umm… I think focusing on the discussion is a good idea, but it is not what we usually do. We are not near a lake or on top of a hill. It is neither sunset nor nighttime in a café. So, it may be better to wait until tomorrow.” Although these words were as neutral as they could be, Romantic still felt neglected: “I don’t think you are going to give yourselves to the matter if we keep going and talking at the same time. Instead, you are going to exploit and consume this lovely talk as a means to keep awake. This is a clear betrayal; it is hypocrisy toward your heart.”

“Wait a minute. I don’t think being wise is the same thing as hypocrisy. Do you have a really good reason to forget about everything else for the sake of this topic? I mean, what makes this topic so important that you want us all to sacrifice everything for it?” rebutted Rational.

Romantic could not answer this question, and turned her face outward into the darkness veiling the fresh green of the trees. She thought, “I am just like those trees and flowers that suffer from not being able to display their beauty because of the darkness.”

Reductionist, who was driving while listening to all the talk, said, “What is it that you are aiming to get from this talk, whether we do it now or later? I don’t want to be discouraging here, but isn’t this another hay-fire that is going to give a burst of heat and light, but will prove ordinary and transient in the end? This is just another emotion-provoking breeze about inspiration. I have experienced several of those, and yet here comes another. What difference is this going to make when we already have thousands of them out there? What is the point in discovering America over and over?”

Hearing all these arguments, Romantic, Rational and Regular all shut their mouths. Although the three roommates wanted to talk about the new perspective that Romantic had presented, their dispute about how to do it had weakened them in the face of Reductionist’s arguments. Nobody could say a word after Reductionist had spoken, and silence covered the quartet like the night.

Although she had been upset by the rest of the group, Romantic was still awake and happy in her mind. She decided to daydream about previous inspirations she had received. That way, she lived again the exhilaration and joy that came along with them. Triggered by that energy, Romantic gave a giggle that disrupted the increasing weight of the dark and silence. Rational, who was sorry to have upset Romantic, used this as an opportunity: “I have an idea. By going slower, we can sincerely concentrate on each other and on Romantic’s inspirations. That way, we can convert our trip into a journey toward the making of an article.” This suggestion triggered Regular to say: “Yeah, depressed nights, too, are part of our custom for in-depth talks.” Now everybody was waiting for Reductionist to approve the idea. Reductionist first slowed down. The reduction of the noise from the engine strengthened the silence. In the tense atmosphere, Reductionist laughed like a thunderclap, and said, “I am going to tell you guys a little story. A writer had three pens. He picked the first one and wrote an article with it. After finishing it, the pen said, ‘I wrote this article for you. Do you like it?’ The writer smiled back and said, ‘Yes, thank you.’ Then the writer put that pen in his office so that it could do things for him. Another day, the writer used the second pen to write a piece. After he finished it, the pen turned to him and said, ‘I wrote what you told me. Do you like it?’ The writer smiled back and said, ‘Yes, thank you.’ Then the writer put that pen in his bag so that it would write things as he wanted. And finally the writer used his third pen to write another article. After finishing it, the pen turned to him with a smile and said, ‘Thank you for using me.’ The writer smiled back at the third pen and put it in his pocket right next to his heart. He carried it everywhere he went, and whenever he had an original idea, he welcomed it with the help of his third pen.”

By that time, the rain outside had turned into a rain of smiles inside the car. Motivated by the unexpected story Reductionist had told, everybody engaged in an effort to welcome the inspiration that came through the one next to the heart. Romantic was not late taking her turn: “You know, for everything there is a season. You have to sow your seeds in the fall and wait until summer to reap. If you sow any time else, you not only waste your time but also lose your seeds. So, I guess the best time to work on an idea is when it first descends from the heavens to your heart.”

Both Regular and Rational looked at Romantic with wide open eyes. Regular said, “You have an important point there.”

“That is absolutely right,” concluded Rational.

Seth Mette has a PhD in Aerospace Engineering and is currently working as a postdoctoral fellow at West Virginia University. He has a special interest in psychological fiction.