Friday, 2 September 2011
Something old, something new...
‘Where do you get your ideas from?’
It’s probably the question writers get asked the most and it usually prompts a bit of an internal sigh. It’s not at all a stupid question though. It’s just one that’s very, very difficult to answer.
So where do they come from? Anywhere and nowhere, I guess, is the short answer.
Ideas can come from: a picture in your mind, an overheard conversation, a news story, a song, a poem; from another book, a movie or TV programme; a gorgeous/ugly/ moving bit of scenery, from a memory, from personal experience...
Okay, I’ll stop there because there are probably a million more ‘sources’ and I bet if you’re reading this you’re thinking I haven’t even mentioned whatever seems the most obvious one to you.
The reason I’ve been mulling on this though, is that I’m in the process of thinking about my third book. My second was already half finished when I got my book deal and originally it was to have a sequel. But as I was writing it, I realised in my heart of hearts that a sequel felt completely wrong. I said nothing but luckily, my very perceptive editor said, ‘You know, I feel you’re holding back in this story. How about putting everything into one book, ditching the sequel idea, and book three can be decided later?’
That book is slowly getting there now and my editor wants to have a chat at some point soon about ideas for the next one.
And that’s a bit scary.
Some writers have a constant stream of good ideas. I’m pleased for them, truly I am [smug gits]. But for me, I’m more likely to have one on the boil at a time. So I suddenly felt a bit, shall we say, terrified that I had to produce a very solid idea out of a magician’s hat? So I started wondering in more detail about where MY stories come from. What if I couldn’t think of anything at all?
It didn't help that this summer has been very intense, with a house move in the offing and all sorts of other tricky life issues going on. Thankfully, I was able to go holiday and when I asked myself that question in a relaxed and happy state, I realised that atmospheric settings are very important to me. And looking at some of the incredible places we visited in Northumberland, I started to get the tiniest of tiny story ideas.
It’s so delicate as yet, I daren’t even talk about it out loud in case it’s rubbish. [I’m actually a bit wobbly about even mentioning it here in such veiled terms]
It may be nothing. It may be something. But it has reminded me that this part is one of the best bits of writing.
Fingers crossed it’s a keeper....