Where does a writer get her ideas?

On Saturday, at a party, I told someone that I was a writer (which is a big deal because up until last summer, if someone asked me what I did, I would say, “Oh, I stay at home with my son and I do a little writing.” It took me months to work up to, “Oh, I’m a writer and I stay home with my son.” Hmm…I wonder why it’s so hard to claim the title of ‘writer’…?)

Anyway, I told this person that I write and she asked, “Oh! Where do you get your ideas from?”

Pardon me while I squeal and hug myself for a moment. It’s not often that strangers would ask me that. Occasional family members, yes. But not strangers. That means I’m being taken seriously.

(And why is that, huh? Why is it that when one says she’s a writer, some people eyes turn glassy and they respond in a robotic voice, “Oh…that’s nice….” then move on to other things…do I need to have an actual book in hand to prove I’m a writer? Bleh…that’s another blog…)

But back to the idea thing. Frankly, I don’t know. When I was a kid, I played a ‘what if’ game a lot. I’d make up stuff at the top of my head. What would happen if there was an underground land under my house? What if there’s fairies living in our backyard. I still do that. I take a concept and spin it into a story. Sometimes it works. That’s how I wrote my Light as Gossamer story (what if Cinderella’s shoes controlled the outcome of her fate?)

Every once in a while, though, something will hit me out of the blue when I least expect it. I’ll be minding my own business, just your average, ordinary woman, la la la, I’m happy/bored/sad/stressed/angry/put that down, Daniel!/blissful, busy etc. (and if you think that doesn’t happen all at once, well, you haven’t seen me lately, have you?)–when, I see something, or someone says something, or someone does something…

…and it resonates…

That’s the best word I can use to describe it. Something goes off in my head. A light turns on. The world slows down. And instantly, I think That’s a story…

There’s an anime called Honey and Clover, about a bunch of college art students trying to finish their projects, graduate and get a job. It’s like Friends, except they’re Japanese, and they don’t sleep with each other, and they actually have deep discussions about life and reservations about their future…yeeeeeahh, just like Friends. Anyway, there’s a girl on the show who can be considered as an ‘artist’. And every once in a while, something halts her, makes her stare in amazement: a giraffe, a four-leaf clover. She’s mesmerized, can’t take her eyes off the thing. Then she retreats to her room and paints and paints. When the others come in, they see the object she was so taken with, except it’s through her eyes the way she saw the object in her mind.

That’s similar to what happens to me.

It happened yesterday, while I was in church, listening to the sermon. Just listening, minding my own business, when the speaker, talking about how we are dead in sin, and how Christ makes us alive again through grace, and he illustrated this by telling the story of Miss Mann, who was married to Mr. Lore (and apologies, John, if I get the story a bit mixed up. It is early in the morning for me.) who treated her horribly. Then she died, and her marital ties to Lore was broken, leaving her free to marry someone else…

And that phrase revolved in my mind, and suddenly I could see a story, see what it’s about, and I instantly knew this would be a ghost story (yeah, yeah…how can a Christian write about ghosts, blah, blah, blah…and that’s another blog), and I even had a title for it. Now I just had to figure out how to work it…

Folks, that’s what I call divine inspiration. I honestly believe that came from God. It also makes me all warm and tingly because it affirms His call to me as a writer. It doesn’t happen every day. Sometimes, months will go by before I have one of those flashes. But that’s okay. I trust God to bring those resonations to me, and in the meantime, I work on other stuff. That’s what being a writer is all about.

Anyway, the next step in the creative process is that I mull it over. Do some research. Let it sit a bit and let it percolate. Then, when I’m ready, I’ll sit down and write the story out.

I’ll let you know how it goes.


One Response

  1. This is a great post! ((((((((())))))))))

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