The boring secret of getting ideas

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“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

Those are one of my favorite quotes from John Steinbeck, one the writers that I admire the most. I can’t agree more.

One of the hardest thing working in a creative industry is how the hell am I gonna get good ideas. The word ‘creative’ itself is like a two-sided coin. On one side, it is an honor for me working in this field. In a fast-changing world like nowadays, if you want to survive, you have to be creative. You have to work smarter than most of your peers. You have to think outside the box, so as many modern people say. Working in this sector is thrilling, challenging.. making me part of this world, which moves so fast, busy, hectic.

Especially I also have to deal with social media era where people can speak up whenever they want. Problems, social phenomenons come and go in a matter of days. So being a part of this industry encourages me to think and behave in line with what happens everyday. This makes me living as a youngster despite my current age.

Being a creative industry laborer means I have to work in different patterns compared to most of my friends’.

While for those who work as civil servants or in administrative offices doing their jobs from this task to other tasks under certain requirements, my work patterns can tell different stories.

Because as a matter of fact, ideas are the core of all. And to get good or even great ideas, most often I don’t have to think hard, or force myself thinking hard. I almost always find the ideas when I slow myself down, take a good time for relaxing and such.

Since I mostly write, translate and edit on a daily basis, my best tool to ignite ideas is by reading. Reading and writing are two things that I really love since the day my other has successfully taught me how to read well. I love you mom for making me able to read!

The mystery of discovering ideas, let us separate them from good, bad or average, is simply practising often and more often. In my theory, I read a lot. Sometimes I read just a little. I read articles that sometimes don’t directly relate to my job, that is about books, literature or creative world or politic or fiction.

Believe me or not, I read a lot of sources about self-development, psychology and motivation. If you ask me why do I read things that don’t correlate with my jobs? Then, I simply say because the words in the articles are artsy. See, artsy, LOL!

The way the writers say what they want to say is amazing. The way they present their ideas is what makes me gluing at the computer of smartphone reading their words. I steal from them about this, on how to craft their ideas.

I learn how they think. I learn how I can be consistent with what I do despite the fact this blog hasn’t earned me any rupiahs or something worthy of money.

On a day-to-day basis, reading articles about personal development is quick and easy. On the longer term, I have a good book by my side. Through reading this novel I don’t only absorb ideas contained in the book but also I am channeled to other ideas while enjoying the book.

For instance, when I read Olalla my mind races back in times when I studied about Gothic literature at the university. That is how one idea can lead me to another one.  And for me, that is so wonderful, on how things can coexist, that on the long journey that you take you meet this person on this route then you meet another individual when the trip goes on further. Much to your surprise, the two strangers that you meet en route know each other.

That is the secret of getting ideas. By working, practicing, reading even when things get boring. Keep enjoying words that don’t necessarily relate to your jobs or favorite fields of study. Keep doing that things because you’ll be amazed how your brain suddenly lights up with new ideas you have no clues where do they come up from.

Your brain is a really fantastic tool that Alloh swt has given to each of us. It works, restores information from what year you can even barely remember. And when you need certain ideas at most, it is like ‘ting’. And there you go.. you get what you need.

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Five things I learn about Robert Louis Stevenson from his short stories

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I was biding farewell to Robert Louis Stevenson as I closed the final page of ‘The Treasure of Franchard’, the last piece of his popular short stories anthology a few weeks ago.  Thanks to ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, ‘The Merry Men’, ‘Will O The Mill’, ‘Markheim’, ‘Thrawn Janet, ‘Olalla’ and ‘The Treasure of Franchard’, I gather these following ideas about this beloved Scottish author:

  1. Philosophical and reflective

Reading Robert Louis Stevenson can be a hard task. His works invite me to reflect so much, even when he writes something funny. It’s like watching Adam Sandler’s dark comedy, the kind of laugh that tears my heart because something serious and ironic is in it, too. ‘Will O The Mill’ proves me this. This tells a story about Will, a very generous and kind-hearted person, who spends his lifetime staying in the same place until the day he dies. For me, Will is the type of person who is very close to all of us, the sort of a good-boy-next-door, the man whom you would like to make friends with. He is so nice that he doesn’t fight for the girl that he loves when another man approaches her. His story is very touching, a kind of calm, sombre one that leaves very impressive mark in my reading list.

  1. You reap what you sow

Although wrapped in cheerful tone, ‘The Merry Men’ teaches me a lot of life lessons, each and every thing that I throw will come back to me in abundant ways. Gordon Darnaway, the uncle of Charles Darnaway, is the perfect example of this. From the very beginning of the short story, it prompts me to think how can this old man is very serious about his life. He seems distant and takes everything so heavy. After I read on the part where he murders now I understand that he probably reaps what he sows. He feels uneasy because of the crimes he does before. His life seems unpleasant because he runs away from his guilty for so long. The last scene where he is seen jumping off the sea makes my heart breaks. So ironic for his life.

  1. Oh, the Gothic style

‘Olalla’ brings me back all about Gothic things, the stuff that I learn during my university years. The mysterious, horror, thrilling tones are strongly felt in the story. Although some of key questions remain unanswered, the short story successfully keeps me going completing it. Robert Louis Stevenson is really good at presenting the Gothic idea in it although does not executing it all as smooth as I expect.

  1. ‘Markheim’ proves his work can be unsatisfying

From ‘Markheim’ I learn that even a master like Robert Louis Stevenson can produce deficient writing. I can feel his writing misses a number of scenes. Disorganized. The last scene when Markheim indicates he will surrender himself to the police after a thoughtful conversation with a man doesn’t make any senses to me.

  1. ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ remains his exceptionally masterpiece

‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ is by far his brilliant work, which completely sticks in my heart in different ways despite the fact ‘Of Mice and Men’ is my most favorite book and ‘Wuthering Heights’ is the best novel I have read so far. ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ stands out from the crowd not only because of it tells about someone’s split personality but also because of his very, very subtle language with huge focus on details. This story runs really delicate that if you don’t pay enough attention, big things will slip away.

Thank you Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson!

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The missing piece: Thomas Hardy’s less popular books

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I completed reading the short story anthology by Robert Louis Stevenson a few weeks ago and I haven’t bought any new novels. This makes me feel a little bit hollow. On one side, I feel lighter because I have no commitment of reading a number of pages within a day or a week. I have no self-appointment to be met. I can read online articles whenever I want without feeling guilty.

On the other hand, something is missing. An important piece of my life is wandering, waiting to be found. And I know I need to read a decent book. In particular, I want to read another title by one of my most favorite authors, Thomas Hardy. I want his books BADLY. The problem is I don’t know how I can find them in the offline bookstores in Jakarta. The store I frequently visit sells only his popular works, such as The Mayor of Casterbridge, Jude the Obscure and Tess of the D’Urbervilles. I read all of them years ago.

The point is I have to buy his lesser known stories via online, something that I haven’t done. May be you wonder why should Hardy’s books? Well, I have to admit that there are no writings that suit my taste better than his. I like Robert Louis Stevenson’s writing style and his descriptive writing technique yet his chosen themes don’t match up with my likeness. They are incomplete, some things remain unresolved, as seen in Olalla and The Treasure of Franchard. Although, yes, they definitely entertain me so much.

In addition, I think it is because Hardy’s works or say, Hardy’s viewpoints are similar with my own; idealistic, realistic and pessimistic (I am working on the latest point to be more positive tone). His view of life and society and romance are comprehensive and contains a lot of critics. His writings are very reflective, prompting me to think on issues in broader ways possible. Romance in his eyes are not just a matter of feelings. And I am always captivated by his fictitious characters, so humane with flaws here and there.

For the sake of enjoying good writings, I am going to buy Hardy’s books. Let’s see how can they fill up the voids in my heart for I can’t take it anymore. I am really in dire need of beautiful words, thoughtful writings.

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“The Treasure of Franchard” by Robert Louis Stevenson

Doctor Henri Desprez meets with Jean-Marie in such unlikely ways. The kid works for a mountebank whom he boldly admits as unkind man. The philosopher and the child come together on the mountebank’s place where the sick man lies sick. Doctor Desprez comes to cure him. It isn’t the mountebank’s worsening health that surprises him but the kid instead.

He looks ignorant about the poor man’s health. He is very honest when he says he dislikes him. After the first meeting, the doctor runs into the child then they both converse, much to the doctor’s irritation. For him, Jean-Marie is too straight-forwarded, unafraid to attack his principles. Plus, Jean-Marie says he used to be a thief.

The story takes drastic turn when the doctor says to his wife, Anastasie, to adopt him. Despite her strong opposition, Doctor Desprez brings Jean-Marie to the house after the mountebank passes away. Jean-Marie turns out being a slow-learner and quite timid, the facts that disappoint the doctor. For Anastasie, Jean-Marie is the object of her play given his sluggish learning pace. She teases him much to her amusement. While for the doctor, Jean-Marie is his prime listener to his theories and rumbles. He prefers talking to the kid to his wife.

One day the doctor and his adopted son goes to Franchard with the intention of snatching what people say as a treasure. The doctor gets it, in forms of luxurious goods and money. He returns home with dreams of coming back to Paris with his wife dressed in fancy dress. He says he will telegraph Casimir, Anastasie’s brother, on their planned departure. Jean-Marie, on the other hand, doesn’t care much on the money. He says money can be harmful.

When they both reach home again, the doctor informs Anastasie on his overall plan. They both visualize how wonderful will their life be if they are rich. After that, they go to their deep slumber happily, knowing tomorrow will be their big day. But as they open their eyes, the pair is shocked.

The money is gone. Only the beautiful dress and some goods that are left. Somebody must have stolen the money! The doctor is very furious. Not long after that, Casimir comes. He suspects Jean-Marie who takes it all. The boy says yes after being forced by the businessman. It takes the wife to convince the kid to stay with them under one condition that they won’t bring the issue up again.

They agree. The house of the doctor and his wife falls down, literally, after years of decaying. They no longer have any roofs under their heads to keep them warm. They are homeless now. Thankfully, a good neighbor provides them a shelter, something that raises the doctor’s sense of humanity after all the years long.

Casimir visits them again. Instead of paying sympathy or the like, he calculates the value of the fallen house. The doctor can’t help it anymore, he is so angry with his brother-in-law. As they calculate, Jean-Marie is seen walking from across the street where the house stands.

It is Jean-Marie who actually takes the money then bring it back to this father and mother after they become humble, trustworthy of receiving it.

 

The joy in reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘The Treasure of Franchard”

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‘The treasure of Franchard’ is like a kick in the ass in the short story collection by Robert Louis Stevenson that I bought last year. It is almost like saving the fun thing for last. This title is the last one in the collection edition.

So far, I looove it. I have been having fun reading the story so far. As far as I have read, the story is simple, funny, witty and ironical. I laugh at some parts of the story. I am so happy reading it because it has delighted me over the past few days. It has been the best companion during my daily commute.

The author’s writing style is damn fantastic, as usual. What makes the story even cooler is because it sets in a hamlet in France with lots of natural descriptions. My imagination has been working at its best enjoying his words.

Stevenson introduces me to fictitious characters whom have entertained me so much in the story. I feel like they speak so closely about people in general. First, there is this boy, Jean-Marie, an orphan who used to steal stuff before he is taken by a mountebank whom the kind dislikes so much. This boy is just like kids are, honest, straight-forwarded one.

Then, he is adopted by Doctor Desprez, a Frenchman who gives up his glamorous life in Paris for the sake of his beloved wife, Anastasie. They live peacefully in the small village. The doctor gains respect from the people and can resume his research. Anastasie can get along with people, especially women in the neighborhood, well. Their life is perfect before the educated man meets Jean-Marie.

The doctor insists on taking the boy into the family as his son although his wife is against the idea. Up to this, I still get confused on why the doctor adopts him because he looks like he detests Jean-Marie because of his honesty, such as when he says the doctor’s voice is awful. But the doctor says he does so because he has got ‘the call’.

The doctor seems a bit disappointed after he later learns that Jean-Marie is not as bright as he used to think. He is a slow learner. But he keeps liking him because I feel what he really seeks is someone who want to listen to what he says and gives critics if Jean-Marie wishes although the doctor occasionally takes the kid’s honesty too far into the latter heart.

On the other hand, Anastasie, whom previously admits she will dislike the boy, gets closer with him gradually. But the way she caresses him is not genuine. It feels like she makes fun of Jean-Marie’s stupidity.

I have yet finish reading the story.

Up to this, I feel pity to the doctor and his wife. They are complicated human beings. That what makes it so interesting for me. And I can’t wait to finish them soon so that I can seek for new novels.  I already have some titles in my head. Not long till I can head to the bookstore. Nothing excites me than bookshopping when it comes to spending money on goods, LOL!

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Unanswered key questions in ‘Olalla’ that make me feeling unsatisfied

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‘Olalla’ reminds me on the moments when I enjoy reading books about Gothic literature, the sort of mysterious tale that keeps me going until the last page of the story. Reading ‘Olalla’ brings so much fun in a way it successfully makes me curious about Felipe, Olalla and their mother. And oh the language by Robert Louis Stevenson in this short story is really, really damn good.

The challenge in reading this type of story is that there are a few or even a lot of clues that are hidden behind self-narration and dreams. In this short story, the narrator’s dream about Olalla gives very important foreshadowing on what is going on with her. Though different forms, the narrator’s dream later becomes true; that he has to go despite the fact they love each other.

Another hard task grasping the essence of the story is visualizing the gestures and appearances of the characters, especially the senora and Felipe. Although the senora is beautiful and elegant, I can tell by the narrator’s depictions that she has the royal blood. I just know it.

The strangest trait in the story I think is Felipe. In spite of his niceties, he is a weirdo as shown when he plays with a maggot. He enjoys torturing the animal. He acts like a child sometimes. This is so ironical knowing that he is the descendant of the royal family. So odd.

While those make the short story very rich and requires me to fully concentrate in digesting it, I hate to say this but I am a bit disappointed. Some key questions remain unresolved. I feel some things are left out.

For instance, what makes the senora act like a beast? How does the former influential family go from riches to rags, figuratively? Is there a thing called supra natural powers here?  What is the connection between losing respect from the society and becoming cruel person, like the senora? And then.. Is there a sort of curse that haunts the family for generations that make Olalla has no choice other than staying in the residencia then die?

There are missing links between losing power and opting becoming like a monster. Or I don’t know. May be I don’t understand the story well. All I know is that the narrator gets the whole story from the villager, which I feel it insufficient still. If not something is missing, I guess something is excluded. I feel the story is a little bit incomplete.

Just my humble thoughts though.

Thank you for providing the picture.

 

‘Olalla’ by Robert Louis Stevenson

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An unknown, handsome gentleman who is also the narrator of the short story is on his course recovering from his illness. He follows what his doctor says. He leaves for a residencia in a small village in Spain to make his recovery goes quicker. But he goes there under one warning; that the owner of the residencia is a little bit strange and that the people of the village won’t be warmed by his good-looking. The doctor refers to Felipe and Olalla by the way.

He sets for the place somehow. He doesn’t get what the doctor says on Felipe’s weirdness on their first encounter. For the visitor, Felipe looks like every one else, tender and kind. The narrator decides doing something that’s risky; he wants to prove if what the doctor says is correct. So, they both get drunk. During the tipsy moments, the protagonist touches Felipe’s family that later causes him to get a little bit out of his temper.

Thankfully, that lasts short. The narrator goes to his bed. His eyes stare at a panting hanging on the walls of his room. It shows a middle-aged woman, a high class one along with her attire. What makes it looks very astonishing is her overall apperance, especially her eyes that make it as if she were alive.

Felipe’s attitude starts looking strange. Once the narrator catches him playing wickedly with a maggot. It seems like Felipe enjoys torturing the animal. The narrator scolds at him even cursing the owner, leaving him begging like a child. After the incident, Felipe acts like a normal man.

After a few days, the narrator meets Felipe’s mother. According to him,  the senora looks beautiful despite her old age. She inherits what it means as ‘royal women’, well-mannered, educated and elegant.

The narrator makes a good friend with her and has some opportunities to talk with her. All goes well until one evening he hears cries outside the residencia. He can’t help finding out what is going on but as he is about to open the door it is locked. Intentionally from the outside. The narrator can’t find ways to unlock it.

Things get more mysterious after he happens to meet a woman, namely Olalla. He knows the name for sure because the doctor mentions her before he goes to the residencia. The narrator is amazed by her beauty. They don’t speak for each other despite the fact they meet several times. The narrator falls in love with her although no words ever spoken yet.

Every day, he yearns for her. Sometimes they meet but sometimes they don’t until the narrator feels he can’t take it anymore. His feeling quickly drains his energy until one evening he smashes his own hand on windows. It bleeds so bad. He runs looking for help then he meets the senora.

But instead of helping his bleeding hand, the senora bites the narrator’s hand to the bones! His hand gets much worse. Fortunately, Felipe comes to rescue him, bringing the narrator to his room. There, Olalla nurses him for a few days until the narrator gets better.

During the time, Olalla tells him about her family and that she loves him, too. But it’s better for the narrator to leave the residencia for good for the sake of his life. Though hard it feels, the narrator agrees. Felipe takes him out of the residencia.

The narrator doesn’t go far though. He opts staying in a village not very far from the residencia. From his brief stay, people give more information about the family, that they are sort of corrupted royal family. The one who reigned the region but later on they were falling down.

But the narrator wishes he could save Olalla because of his huge love for her. So one day he approaches the residencia again and there he meets her. Olalla makes up her mind though. She doesn’t want to be rescued. She wishes to stay where she is. Then the narrator leaves her at the foot of the cross on a hill where they meet for the last time.

Thank you for providing the picture.