tuning in

(I'll be moderating a panel on book auctions at the U.S. Book Show this week. If you'll be at the event on Tuesday, please swing by.)

I've wanted to discuss the Believer's interview with Michael Imperioli since the magazine came in the mail. However, they don't post the newest issue until well after physical copies arrive. In fact, I'm pretty sure people could stream Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania more quickly after it left theaters. (They didn't, but the point is they could.)

Fun Michael Imperioli tangent: In my first summer job as a Mac repairperson in the 90s, everyone in the shop called me Spider and told me, frequently, to go get my shine-box. Having no idea what they were talking about, I'd just laugh and go back to work. On my last day before school started, one of them finally realized I'd never seen Goodfellas and rushed out to grab the VHS cassette as a parting gift. It wasn't until that night I realized my co-workers didn't like me very much.

In any case, Imperioli, famous for the role of the hapless Spider and that of Christopher Moltisanti on The Sopranos, has cultivated a wide and varied creative career as an actor, novelist, screenwriter, and meditation teacher. Imperioli's interest in Buddhism comes through in his thoughts on creativity:

At the inception of a project—say, if you’re an artist, right? Once your consciousness gets tuned to whatever it is—an image, a story, a chord progression, a melody, and you’re working on it; you know, it might be a year, not all the time, but you’re working on it—once your consciousness gets tuned to that, anything that comes into your head related to that idea, you have to respect it.

This idea of being tuned in to an idea parallels what I'd previously shared about the plate of shrimp theory of the universe. That book you want to write becomes planted in the mind, humming like a tuning fork. Inevitably, other elements resonate with that guiding frequency. These are facts, phrases, images, or ideas you wouldn't have noticed if you hadn't already been tuned in.

Whatever you do, don't ignore these serendipitous resonances:

You may not use it, but you better write it down. Because at that point there’s no random thoughts. Your consciousness—your compass, if you will—is tuned to that. Whatever is coming is filtered through that. You can’t ignore any of it. That’s how I trust it.

If it comes up, write it down. Write everything down. Once you're tuned in to a big idea, your brain sifts every new experience for raw material. That's a good thing. Tune out the things you've tuned into, and it eventually stops. That exciting project no longer feels all that important. You can't even remember why you wanted to write it in the first place.

"Sometimes you just have to start," Imperioli said, "even if you just have one scene, one image, one moment. Just start playing with it. Sometimes that opens a box. That opens and then there’s another one."

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