What's the big deal about 'where to find your story?' Here's the freaking truth. For me, it's never been a problem--ever. That sounds egotistical, but it's not. I've written all my life and stories pop all around me. They gel in the middle of the night, and I know they are right when my heart isn't simply touched by them, but wraps tight around them until I HAVE TO TELL THAT STORY.
Of course, I've picked up ideas here and there at conferences--all excellent ones:
- Tim Powers (SF/F) told a class that he researches until he has 'twenty ideas too cool not to use' and then he starts writing.
- Connie Willis (SF/F MASTER) told a group that you must 'keep your butterfly net out and scooping up ideas all the time.
- Mark Twain (you know Samuel Clemens) says that 'the difference between the right world and the the almost right world is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.' Or was that 'right word?' Doesn't matter, either work.
- Joyce Carol Oates considers herself 'as a teacher, I am the ideal editor...who defines herself primarily as a friend of the text and a friend of the writer, in that order.'
My night writing has evolved into the bizarre. Normally ideas percolate like Connie Willis' butterflies, crashing around in a small space, until they merge as a story. Recently? Yeah, kind of freaky. I've been having dreams that aren't mine. I wake up and wonder where the heck that scene or that character came from. If I can't line it up with my real world, I've decided it's someone else's mind that came to visit.
- Last night in my dreams I met a woman (not homeless, but dang close) who lives in Seattle (yes, I've visited but that's it) and lives in a home that is a tiny Quonset hut. It must leak because inside that is a large hiking type hut. (She's very proud it, the tent, has two rooms, but you can't stand in it.) She burrowed into my heart like I imagine blood worms do in dogs' hearts. And isn't that a lovely idea. I will write about her one day. She was a proud woman.
- This is more typical of where my ideas coalesce. I'm researching #GamerGate for a short story, or maybe more, and last night went on line to try to contact some of the major players via twitter (since their website entitled Fat, Ugly, or Slutty, (FUoS) title based on what some fellow gamers think about women players--especially the ones that routinely crush male players online.) So many ideas thunk around in my brain space like boulders carried along in molten lava. Take away, as Wil Wheaton points out? You write off the comments as being from twelve-year-old boys, but the average gamer age is 34. That's a frightening and very Kami Files worthy plot idea.
- Things start to gel, outline shapes up, characters rise, and all of it wraps around my heart and burrows in for the long haul. After all, I'll live with these characters and their lives for over a year. They need to be worthy of the attention.
So then it's time to begin. Stop posting on your blog. Get to work, Meg. And that's why this isn't edited nice and neat. Still, it might be helpful for fellow authors or for readers who have always wondered.