Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Where Great Ideas Are Born

Having just finished David Levithan's every day I am wondering where ideas come from? Well, not just any ideas, but great ideas...ideas that make us say"Wow!" or ideas that make us pause to wrestle with them in our own minds and souls...

At the end of every day, Levithan thanks many people but also offers that he doesn't know where the idea for this story came from:
For most of the novels I've written, there's been a definite starting point--the spark of an idea that turned into a story. Usually I remember it. But for this book, I must admit I don't.
This inspires me. It reminds me why I love reading, art, athletics, and travel.  Inevitable, if I hang around or experience enough of any of those things then I know, eventually, I will brush up against someone or something that will show me, as a matter of fact, that there is a place where great ideas are born.

And any of us can access it.

It may not be easy. We may need to put in a lot of mileage reading books, scaling monuments, and catching a ball, but we can all touch greatness.

The only difference between you and Mozart is that Mozart took the time to run his fingers up and down the strings, up and down the string, so that he could find that moment...and share it with the rest of us.

David Levithan's novel introduces us to a character (we assume male) named A. All A has know his entire life (he is sixteen) is always waking up in another sixteen year-old's body. He lives each day in a separate body--gender race, weight, height can all be different and varied. He can not control it...yet.

And, one day, he falls in love.

Every day after meeting her (Rhiannon), he fights to find a way show himself, A, to her. Not the body he has borrowed...but the soul, spirit...something...within.  He manipulates the routine of all of these different sixteen year olds just to drive a few hours to see her leave school...talking with her friends...

Yet this is not just a love story...because the possibility of malevolence arises. There is a palpable darkness off in the corner of the story...a threat separate from the love story or the twisted plot arc of whether they will get to be in love or not.

There is talk that some people can remember being "taken"...and word is, it is the work of the devil.

It has become clear in recent years that some YA novels are exploring serious issues. For many of us, literature becomes our first lucid exposure to injustice, love, anguish, triumph...humanity's list goes on and on. Here, Levithan's narrator almost plays the role of Yoda when he writes lines that almost read like they come from an ancient philosopher:
The clock always ticks. There are times you don't hear it, and there are times that you do.
Levithan uses A's love story to take the reader on a different journey. You'll find, as a reader, being equally challenged by the lives of the people A inherits. Among others, A participates in the life of socially cruel girl, an obese boy, a girl planning her own suicide, a boy strong in his faith, a musically inclined male, a home-schooled boy, a "hard-core design geek, " a girl who excels at cross-country running, a girl who works as a maid, a diabetic...there are many others (it is amazing how many lives Levithan packs into the novel). Through these varied lives, Levithan takes great care in presenting several of the social pressures some teens encounter today.

Here the narrator tells us about A's discovery of the sad darkness within the character Kelsea:
I try to access any memory of Kelsea giving a cry for help. But the thing about a cry for help is that someone else needs to be around to hear it. And I am not finding a moment of that in Kelsea's life.
Here A wakes up in the body of a boy hurting himself with a chemical dependency:
There will be no school for me today. There will be no parents waking me up. I am on my own, in a dirty room, sprawled on a dirty mattress with a blanket that looks like it was stolen from a child...There comes a time when the body takes over the life...You have no idea you are giving the body the key. But you hand it over. And then its in control.
Throughout the novel, A tries to do the right thing by each body he takes over that day--initially, he believes by leaving their life uninterrupted, that he is doing the best thing. Instead, he begins to learn and feel a responsibility for helping those who need the help.

Levithan's novel is not just a creative and unique idea, but a socially interesting, and morally challenging sweep through many issues young adults experience every day.  He has found a way to deal with these social issues with great honesty and great sensitivity.

Authors, artists, actors all find their own way to not only tell the truth but also to reveal what is behind the truth.

Because all great artists, actors, writers know that only through struggling to tell the truth will they brush along the path where great ideas are born.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice article. I am agree with you all the great peoples become the great through their struggles. But the question arise again where the ideas are born? Everybody wants his life so beautiful and get all the things and want to become great. But I want to tell one thing if we have great idea but have no dare to make in real then that also will go in dustbin.
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