A while back I’d gotten a question, I replied quickly, because I have no time these days to make lengthy, well-reasoned responses happen, and I moved on. But it came back to me today, when I was sitting here staring at the blinking cursor for an inordinate amount of time, trying to think of what to talk about to all you brilliant beautiful people. Where do you get all your ideas?
Questions like this usually make me blink and wonder what kind of a person doesn’t have more story ideas floating through their brain on any given day than one person could possibly write down. I will never, if I live to out-survive my Great-grandmother, who we lost at 107, be able to write down all the story ideas I have. This last week I had a short tale about a graffiti artist and a pixie float through my head, the story of a street-smart, mouthy teen girl (who lives for her photography, and inadvertently took a picture that is getting her in big trouble), and several others that flitted through, didn’t get written down, and may yet return to haunt me.
But where do the ideas come from? They aren’t springing forth in some weird spontaneous generation from the muck of my brain, the way people used to think flies emerged from rotten meat. Instead, the process is more like making sausage. Like most writers, I read a lot. I don’t just read fiction, either. Nor do I limit myself in the scope of what I read. In my open tabs right this very minute, I have the following:
“The job of the superversive is at once difficult and rewarding. We shall need to build on the high ground, as people used to do: not only for defence, but because the high ground is more solid. Before the subversives dug their mines under the churches, there was a parable that used to be widely known. The gist of it was that a house built on rock will stand firm, but a house built on sand will soon fall down. High ground is usually rocky ground, and from that perspective, ideal for us to build on.”
Amazon’s Crowdsourced Publishing Platform Amazon is hoping to tap the power of the crowd to determine which ebooks it should publish. And for a very good analysis of why this isn’t precisely a good idea, you can see what our very own Sarah Hoyt has to say, here.
With all this time in the history of the planet, hopanoids accumulated in spectacular amounts, perhaps as much as 1012 tons. This makes them enormously abundant and equal in mass to the organic compounds of all organisms now living. Almost certainly, they represent the largest mass of any single class of organic molecules on Earth. And yet, they are unfamiliar to most people, in and out of science.
Davis said it is useful to compare this Mediterranean slavery to the Atlantic slave trade that brought black Africans to the Americas. Over the course of four centuries, the Atlantic slave trade was much larger – about 10 to 12 million black Africans were brought to the Americas. But from 1500 to 1650, when trans-Atlantic slaving was still in its infancy, more white Christian slaves were probably taken to Barbary than black African slaves to the Americas, according to Davis.
I think you get the idea. I read a lot, and about a lot of different things. This doesn’t even get into the books I’ve read recently, of which there is a partial list here. As you can see, with all this, and the reading I must do for school, there is a lot going into my brain. From all this, ground up and digested over time, come the ideas for stories. Often times I have forgotten where the genesis for a tale came from. Other times, I’ll be watching people, or listening to music, or… and a story will pop into my head. Most of the time, I have no trouble finding ideas. Unless, of course, I’m sitting here staring at the screen knowing I must write something, or else.
And even then, pressure can work wonders. I woke up yesterday, sat bolt upright in bed, having just remembered I was supposed to turn in a short paper that morning in microbiology class. I got up, researched, and wrote. In an hour, I had the paper ready to go, and plenty of time to get to school without having my feathers ruffled. Well, not too much – it was windy and raining. Sometimes setting a deadline can do the trick if you find yourself unable to produce.
We live in an age where the written word is not dying. Rather, it is becoming ever more pervasive. The internet, emails, text messages and chat-rooms have revived the art of the letter in a new and strange way. Books, far from being an endangered species, are becoming so numerous that many sources refer to them as a tsunami. It’s not hard to let that flow over you, and into you, and what comes out of you after ingesting all of that might not always be good but with some discipline, feedback, and persistence (mostly: finish it! Stop dinking around with pre-editing and formatting and write, darnit!). Ahem, where was I? Oh, yes…