Wednesday, October 17, 2012

That thing you do

You know, there's one question I often get asked when I tell people that I'm a writer. I'm sure it's a pretty common question directed at every writer, whether they be an award winning and famous, or just starting out. That question is this:

"Where do you get your ideas from?"

There's an anecdote I remember reading a while ago, though I can't remember which writer said it. It's one of my favourite answers to the question. The below is an approximation of what was said, as I can't remember it off by heart, but here goes:

When asked by someone, where they got their ideas from, the writer in question replied that there's a little old lady in Cornwall, and if you want an idea for a story, you send her your request in the post along with a cheque, and she duly replies, the story plotted out for you neatly, which she types out on an old-fashioned manual typewriter. No one knows who she is, only that her address is passed from author to author, each one sworn to secrecy to never tell a non-author (or interviewer) who she is, on pain of death.

It's complete toss, of course, but I think it's a brilliant explanation. (oh, and whoever it was who said it, please feel free to tell me!).

I think, however, I'll stick to the truth.

Where do I get my ideas from? I don't know. Probably from somewhere deep in my subconscious, where it bubbles away like a hotpot, every so often allowing fresh ideas to shoot forth like bright flares in the night. Without the hyperbole, they just appear. Sometimes fully formed, sometimes the process is a little slower, developing over the course of hours or days. Sometimes months. For example, I've recently started thinking about what I'm going to do with the characters of my soon to be published novella, The Runaway. All of a sudden, I had an idea for a whole novel, which I immediately wanted to start planning.

Maybe I do have the address for the little old lady, but if that's the case, I ain't telling.

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