I love the history of cities. That's why some of the damage in IC makes me sad (all those beautiful houses, you just know are going to be replaced with ugly apartments). You can pass through a century's worth of architecture in the neighborhoods I bike through. Sometimes I'll be walking around downtown and I'll just stop imagine what it looked like back in the 20's, or the 50's, when this place was really happening, or what it will look like in the future; where new buildings could go, what shape the city can take. Some cities have obvious destinies; New York was never going to be anything but a second generation city of the world.
I went out to the pub last night with Ben, and we were talking about writing, and building the imaginary worlds of our stories, and I talked a little about the fun I get out of building imaginary cities. You start with this idea of a place you like, and you then have to justfify why things are the way they are, which provides the material for developing your fictional society. Walking home, I may as well have been walking through the streets of the imaginary city; I discovered a part of it I never had before, and right away, I knew I had found not only a trivial piece of imaginary architecture, but probably the single most important image in the entire story I'm writing. Instantly, I knew how it functioned as a symbol, how it developed in each of the three books of this trilogy monster, and how it relates to each character that comes into contact with it. As soon as I got home, I started adding it into the story, being extremely careful with the words I chose to describe it, making sure the words themselves developed in each of its three appearances. Afterwards I had this buzz all night, this sheer exuberance over this feeling I'd finally unlocked something in this story, and my own writing as well.
Muriel Spark, dead at 88.
Great article about 'writer's block'.
Birth was the death of him.