Last week I did my best to give an answer to that perennial question: “Where do you get your ideas?” At that point, I was still seeing if the idea would become a story and I promised to give you folks an honest report.
Well, I’m happy to say that the process was a productive one. As you may recall, I actively wrote right up until Friday evening. Then I decided to use the weekend to think my way through a few elements that hadn’t quite jelled. Now, some of you may be thinking that this is in violation of my claim not to outline. It isn’t. I was musing, not outlining.
Also, this story had rather special circumstances. Perhaps you may remember that for several months I was involved with an art contest my friend Scot Noel decided to sponsor on his website. (See WW 1-29-14, “Cover Art Contest,” if you want to refresh your memory.)
My contributions involved contributing the second place prize and promising to write a short story based on one of the winning pieces. The story would be made available as a free download through Scot’s site. I also ended up participating in a series of chats with Scot about the contest itself. Our emphasis in these chats was on how we, as writers, reacted in a different fashion to the judges (all of whom were visual artists). You can see the art and our discussions at www.SFFcontest.com
Anyhow, the picture I chose to write my story around was the first place winner, “Apocalypse Book” by Hugh Edby. A lot of the musing I did over that intervening weekend involved going over the picture with the mental equivalent of a magnifying glass, seeking small details that I might work into the story. When I settled down to write again, the story moved along quite briskly for several pages, then I found myself slowing down.
Shutting off my computer, I wandered off and started reading about the various members of the first version of the psychedelic rock group, Jefferson Airplane. I learned a long time ago that trying to force a story is about as useful as banging my head against a wall and just about as painful. (See WW 8-11-10, “Walking Away From It” if you’d like a bit more about this.) What I have found is that if I distract myself – by reading or doing routine chores – often I come up with an answer.
This time the answer came pretty promptly. I was moving into a sad part of the story and I didn’t feel like going there. I meditated, but felt the story would lose its heart if I came up with different material. So I kept on writing. The Muse rewarded me for my perseverance, coming up with an ending I didn’t expect at all…
I’ll leave it there. No spoilers.
I’ll be sure to let you know when the story – its working title is “Born From Memory” – is available.
Now what next? Well, Wanderings on Writing needs a final go-over, then it’s off to be converted into an e-book. When that’s done? I have a few plans… Now, however, the garden produce is taking over my countertops. Time to go fuss with it. Doubtlessly while I do so, I’ll be thinking about stories.
I’m curious… What do you other creative people do between projects to recharge? How do you court inspiration when you’re just a little stuck?