Often times you hear young or new writers being advised to write what you know, or write the book you want to read. Excellent advice, fairly logical. But writing doesn't just happen because you know certain things or love to read certain things. Something more comes into play. Ideas, original ideas. After that the work begins, crafting the idea, prodding your characters to come into the limelight, learning to allow your characters to tell you their story, to interact with people naturally. Often these ideas that start a story are more than one idea that have collided into each other and that lightbulb moment clicks. Aha!
I am a big fan of Jane Austen. I have read all of her well-known completed books. I love them all. I enjoy period movies, especially the Regency ones. But I felt I could never write a Regency period book because they are basically romances and there's plenty of that already out there. I needed something more original. This has been lurking on the back-burner of my brain for years. I left it there purposely, feeling that someday the right two ideas would meet and then I'd have a novel in the making. The other day, two ideas crashed head on in my brain and I sat up in bed feverish to get notes down. (I most often have these ideas in the wee hours of morning for some reason). And now, added to my list of books in the queue is a Regency period which will of course be a romance (my first attempt at that genre to boot), but I am hoping to take it beyond the typical romance formula, push it further toward literary fiction. We will see.
As a writer, I have learned never to throw out an idea all together. You would not believe the amount of paper scraps, leather bound journals, and random documents in the computer, I have scattered throughout my existence with the slightest phrase or inkling jotted in them. I keep them all. I revisit them periodically. Some of them turn into poems. Some of them blossom into short stories or full novels. So, I believe, no matter how terrible the idea seems, keep it. Tuck it away. Let your unconscious brain do the work of mulling on it, even if for years at a time. You may never use it, but it may catapult you into some other idea, or it may one day throw itself on a train track and derail another thought, blending and meshing into the aha moment.
and now for something completely different:
a TED talk I love.
Charlie Todd: The shared experience of absurdity | Video on TED.com
I was planning to only post up one TED talk today but this one, you just have to watch:
Thomas Suarez: A 12-year-old app developer | Video on TED.com