When I was in art school (yeah yeah, laugh it up) we often joked about there being some kind of shop where we could go to buy ideas because, back then, that seemed like the hardest part of the creative process. Figuring out what to draw/paint/make in the first place.
Recently came across a conversation on social media where a writer was having much the same problem. They felt devoid of ideas and were finding it hard to think of something to write. I have to say, I felt a fleeting pang of jealousy. But that was quickly silenced by the rational part of my brain screaming at me to count my damn blessings.
I’m not saying that I don’t ever have trouble writing. That definitely happens. Transforming the idea in my head into words on the page feels impossible sometimes. But having the idea in the first place…that I can’t turn off.
I find myself yelling, “No! Not now!” in the shower – God knows what my neighbors must think goes on in there – because I’ve noticed a weird crescent-shaped bruise on my arm…and what if more bruises appeared…is it alien abduction? Is it a terrible infection that can only be cured by black market organ donation? Is it going to form a symbol in some long forgotten language that prophesies a natural disaster? Is it from sleep walking and what if a terrible crime happened in front of you and the bad guys think you witnessed it but really you were asleep but now they’re after you and you don’t know why because you can’t remember and you have to go on the run with a bitter but smoking-hot ex-forces cop and Oh My God, please stop already!
This is my life. Everything is a story, or twelve. I think it’s probably as I spent a lot of time alone as a child, my make-believe play was internalized, so stories in my head became a way of enjoying that time alone. Like reading without the bother of having to turn on the light. I’ve never not done this, but it didn’t occur to me to write anything down for quite some time. And then that in itself just seems to fuel the narrative demon in my head.
I started writing “Home Is Where You Are” as a stand alone. Just a thought I had, that turned into a scene or two, that turned into a story. But they are called plot bunnies for a reason, and by the time I had finished the first draft, I had outlines for three more novels and two novellas.
Sometimes it feels like a disease, constantly plotting and imagining, but then I remember how damn lucky I am, and how bereft I would feel without the stories in my life. And after I signed up for an Instagram account, and was wondering what the hell to post on there, I figured it wasn’t a bad place to store the plot bunnies, and maybe they might help some people that need bunnies of their own. So, I’ve started snapping pictures, and jotting down the thoughts, and who knows, maybe one day I’ll be reading a story and the MC will notice the strange crescent-shaped bruise on his arm just as a sniper bullet narrowly misses his head.
Wouldn’t that be something? : )