Monday, March 15, 2010

God Help Me, I’ve Been Inspired By Ayn Rand (cold shiver)

Dear Esteemed Reader,

Pray for me in my time of wanton depravity. I have been inspired by none other than Satan herself, Ayn Rand. I am unclean.

First, I should mention for anyone unfamiliar that Ayn Rand, aside from her duties as the Princess of Darkness, is also the author of several books considered by some (me grudgingly included) to be classics of American literature, such as Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead

No, don’t read them. Walk not through that valley of the shadow of darkness. Just know that there is a direct link between her wacky ideas about selfishness as a virtue and too many American executives who would starve puppies and/or children for another point on their stock. She was likely also responsible for a sharp uptick in the rape and abuse of American women in the 1950’s.

Well, Ayn Rand gave writing lessons to crowds that some misguided soul compiled into a book called Ayn Rand’s The Art of Fiction, or as I call it, Ve Have Vays of Making You Vrite. I’ve been listening to the audio version on and off for a good laugh, ‘cause that book is hilarious. Seriously.

Ayn says everything most writers occasionally think, but have the good sense not to say aloud in the presence of other sentient beings. Does she praise her work above all others and openly acknowledge she believes it to be the pinnacle of literature? You bet she does! 

Does she call out other writer’s shortcomings by name and then explain why her own writing is better? Absolutely! 

Does she bluntly state that all fiction is propaganda for one’s own political and philosophical beliefs and that plots must be constructed to enforce said beliefs. You know it! 

Ayn Rand’s thoughts are horrifying when taken seriously by people who ought to know better, but they are also comic gold:)

Anywho, I was listening tonight at the gym, giggling and minding my own business when this godless wench inspired me! The nerve! But that’s my fault. You dance with the devil, the devil don’t change, she changes you and all of that. 

Ayn was talking about the seemingly mystical quality of writing that puts so many off, that magical moment when a great idea for your story pops into your head from nowhere. You have to earn your magical moments, she said, or something to that effect. It was all jumbled up with the usual “kick the poor in the teeth as they are dragging us all down,” and “if you want something, take it, even if she says no—she’ll impressed by your can-do spirit and will beg you to smack her around.”

Last week, I had an idea for “The And Then Story,” while I was minding my own business and playing Bioshock 2 (a game partially inspired by Ayn Rand). As soon as I had the idea, I rushed to write it down and the entire second and third act of my project fell in a cohesive whole that they did not have before. This big gateway idea unlocked a huge portion of the story for me and it would have saved me a lot of anxiety if it had come sooner. 

But it didn't come when I was only thinking about the story last year. It came this year as I’m actively writing the book every morning at four. My regular conscious focus on the novel allowed my subconscious to have a swell idea while I was slacking off (the best way to spark the subconscious). The coming of the idea felt like a magical moment from nowhere, but I earned it.

Incidentally, one of the characters in “The And Then Story” is named after Ayn. Is it possible this hatred I feel is actually a secret love I don’t have the emotional maturity to acknowledge? I mean I’m listening to her book, I’m playing her video game, I’m naming characters after h

Oh dear. I've vomited all over my keyboard.


  1. That sudden inspiration is truly a wonder, is it not? I had one of those moments recently - I was very busy, thinking all kinds of writerly thoughts and trying to tell my brain to shut off because dang it I needed to sleep, and suddenly BAM! The idea for a new MG novel, complete with 3 MC's and motivations and a plot zapped into my head. Growling, I hauled myself out of bed, down to the computer to type out the brain spasm, and finally was able to go back to sleep.

    That's how my current WIP started too, and I quite like how that story's turning out (not Byrne Risk).

    I won't delve into your complicated relationship with Ayn, but if you keep dissing on her, we might have to have a throw-down. I'm kidding. Sort of.


  2. I’ve never had a whole novel come to me all at once like that. Impressive. Usually, I get a half defined situation and a notion of genre, and then I pick at it until I have a novel. I’m typically considering three of these half thoughts and sooner or later one of them claims the forefront of my mind and that’s the one I write.

    As for Ayn Rand, I am of course partly joking. It’s unlikely she was Satan—more like Satan’s vessel. But I have to respect her ability at crafting a novel. ATLAS SHRUGGED is heavy-handed and preachy, but also exciting and fun to read. The woman had skills, or I wouldn’t bother reading her writing advice. If only she could have been convinced to use her powers for good!


Thanks for stopping by, Esteemed Reader! And thanks for taking the time to comment. You are awesome.