Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Where does it come from?

One of the things that happens to us writers when people find out we’re writers is we get The Questions:

1) “Would I have read anything you’ve written?” 

Answer: Well, I wrote a lot of ads. Did you ever feel compelled to buy something you didn’t need and couldn’t afford? That could have been me.  I have a blog, but it's a big Internet ….

2) “When will I be able to buy your book in a store?”

Answer: Not yet. Probably not for a while. Possibly when pigs fly. Keep watching the sky. I sure do.

3) “Where do you get your ideas?”

Answer:  This is the one I love. (And I’m not being bitter or sarcastic or anything.)

The truth is as follows: I got A Parsnip Universe one day when I was not finding some item I was looking for and muttered, “Dang. It must have gone into another universe.” I got Motes because the woman who cleaned for us was resolute about turning everything cattycornered. I drove by a Bratenahl gatehouse and suddenly just knew there was an ex-CIA agent living there. Shortly after that, he told me he was in love with the lady of the mansion who’d been married to his best friend and that the best friend was now“Twice As Dead.”

Most recently, I was driving back from the – now demolished – McDonalds on Lake Shore and I heard a voice that was not my own saying, “You know you live in a rough neighborhood when someone honks at a blind man in the crosswalk.” 

Hello, Allie Harper. Go grab that blind man. He’s kind, smart, handsome, and hot – and about to be very, very – very to the 10th power – rich. Be careful, though. With money like that, Somebody's Bound To Wind Up Dead.

Of course, the magical whatever-that-was did not stay around to dictate the whole book in any of those instances, but the spark was powerful enough to get me going and, over time, I began to trust that I could keep on going long enough to find out what those folks were up to. I swear to you that for me this is pure, irresistible magic. 

Now. Listen up. The “Story Idea Fairy” doesn’t visit only the “real writers.” She/He comes to us all. She came to my mother every time she said to me, “Look at that couple over there. Do you think they’re happily married?” (I always said, “Shhh! They’ll hear you.” And no doubt scared the magical muse away.) We see things and imagine things and remember things and if we can tell our rational self to just shut up, sit down, and type something, they spin and turn and weave themselves into stories. 

They can’t really do it all by themselves, of course. The work, the doubt, the dejection & rejection, the pain in your neck, and the delight of your heart are in your keeping. Yours alone. 

But it doesn't matter if you sell a million copies or you only read the one tattered copy you have to the people at the rest home who can’t get up and walk away. Your work in the service of your characters and their stories will be a blessing to your creative self. For sure, you have one of those. I promise that you got one. It’s standard issue.

So here’s where stories come from:  Us.

P.S. And if you scroll down to the next post, you'll discover that sometimes a bit of a story can get delivered by the UPS man. Who knew? 

1 comment:

  1. The creative muscle is an amazing thing. Good post.