Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ideas--dime a bushel basket

So this one day I was on the bus, because, you know, no car, and I was trying to write. This was a couple years ago, so I had my nightshift damn-I-want-to-sleep hangover on, and there wasn't much I could do about it. This woman notices me, and starts talking.

First off, guys and girls? I don't want to meet you on a bus. and if you see me in public with headphones in? It means i don't want to talk. I want to listen to music.

So anyway, I was dumber back then, and I mentioned that I was working on a book.

The floodgates. fucking. open.

See she had this idea involving bigfoot. An idea that I think I read in a Frank Peretti book (there are two kinds of people who read Frank Peretti. Christians, and Fundamentalist crazies) with a couple of extra twists. And it was BORING and I just wanted to go HOME, and the thing that struck me the most? Was how when we started she was like, "Well, I guess you can steal this idea because God knows, I'll never do anything with it."

My former--THANK GOD!--stepfather was the same way. He was all like, "you need to stop working on that silly fairy shit and start WRITING STORIES FOR JESUS" and then he would lay out his Da Vinci Code rip off that also involved the antichrist and human cloning. So specifically, he wanted me to stop working on MY story and start working on HIS. Because his is something he actually wants to read.

Kids, a story is not an idea. An idea is not a story. An idea is the sperm it takes to get a story started. When it does its job, it goes away, and there are a lot of other little wriggly ideas that don't ever go anywhere. And an idea is easy to get. How easy?

"Angel Tractor". Go write a story involving those two words. Now. If you stare at a screen long enough, eventually you'll get an idea. Are you stuck? Here's two more words. "Glorious Pumpkin". Go back to writing.

If I were to go through the list of idea kernals in Silver Bullet, it would be: watching a true crime show about a sniper, a word prompt I got off Janet Reid's blog, a HORRIBLE horror movie that may or may not have had Kevin "I drink my own piss" Cosner in it, a boat named "No Compromise" sitting behind the restaurant that owns my life, and a chunk of my dead-yet-soon-to-be-ressurected novel, so "Winterlord" doesn't really count yet. Of those five stories, one, Silver Bullet, was written specifically to go into the collection, and it was the only one where I spent time desperate for ideas. And by "time" I mean half an hour. And I'm not saying there is anything special about my brain. Because there isn't. I just didn't waste time over thinking things.

The best thing you can do for yourself as a writer is to write. Not gather ideas, but rather force yourself into a position where you have to write, a lot, every day, for hours. If you do this long enough, eventually you'll learn how to make the ends of your brain rub together to create sparks. The next best thing, of course, is to edit what you've written into some form of coherance, of course, but to do that you need to have stuff to work with.

Do you have an idea? A little kernal of an idea that may or may not become a story?

Stop talking about it.

Stop outlining.

Stop researching.

Stop designing your alien race's anatomy.

And Go.



That is all.

No comments:

Post a Comment