Friday, 10 May 2013

Lewis Carroll and Ideas

If you have managed to read Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, I'd recommend purchasing the Penguin Classics copy below (ISBN 9780141439761), because this copy includes the original manuscript version called Alice's Adventures under Ground, complete with Lewis Carroll's own drawings.

The Child, Nonsense and Meaning.
It is also known that Carroll, in a letter to Tom Taylor of 10 June 1864, talks of his difficulties of finding a title for his "fairy-tale". This letter, along with a second about "Good English", and his discussion regarding names in Symbolic Logic (there really is a plethora of information regarding all his dealings with language that I simply cannot write here) I shall now talk of Lewis Carroll and his interpretation of how one obtains their ideas for writing.

One of his many mathematical works.

What I shall talk about is in regard to "ALICE" ON THE STAGE published by Carroll in The Theatre, April, 1887, which is in the Penguin edition mentioned above. This excerpt also has information that pertains to his characters (such as the White Rabbit, the Hatter, but particularly Alice), riddles, and thoughts about childhood in general.

In reference to the two books:

"In writing it out I added many fresh ideas, which seemed to grow of themselves upon the original stock; and many more added themselves when, years afterwards, I wrote it all over again for publication: but (this may interest some readers of "Alice" to know) every such idea and nearly every word of the dialogue, came of itself. Sometimes an idea comes at night, when I have had to get up and strike a light to note it down - sometimes when out on a lonely winter walk, when I have had to stop, and with half-frozen fingers jot down a few words which should keep the new-born idea from perishing - but whenever or however it comes, it comes of itself. I cannot set invention going like a clock, by any voluntary winding up: nor do I believe that any original writing (and what other writing is worth preserving?) was ever so produced. If you sit down, unimpassioned and uninspired, and tell yourself to write for so many hours, you will merely produce (at least I am sure I should merely produce) some of that article which fills, so far as I can judge, two-thirds of most magazines - most easy to write and most weary to read - men call it "padding," and it is to my mind one of the most detestable things in modern literature. "Alice" and the "Looking-Glass" are made up almost wholly of bits and scraps, single ideas which came of themselves. Poor they may have been; but at least they were the best I had to offer: and I can desire no higher praise to be written of me than the words of a Poet, written of a Poet,

"He gave the people of his best:
The worst he kept, the best he gave.""

As a writer myself, I glean what gold I can from the sand. I tend not to worry too much about remembering such information; I know that if it's interested me enough to remember it, it will stick. Idea's (at least I think) do involve some sort of problem solving on the part of a working story. I guess it's obvious that your mind is always on what you are currently writing - whether asleep or awake - and it is there, the ideas are coming to you and your decision making skills are on full speed (for me it is most effective at night), even though the problem solving aspect is long past the starting line.

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