The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Standing In The Idea Stream

Posted by BigWords on June 21, 2009

I said I wasn’t gonna talk about the process of writing, but a television interview make the devil on my shoulder angry…

Newspapers, magazines and television shows which interview writers manage to routinely plunge the depth of banality. It would appear to the casual viewer that their ‘probing analysis’ is hunky-dory, but those who write obsessively know different, and the idiotic babble which passes for conversation is exposed for the crap it truly is.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

How many times have you read that? Or heard it asked in an interview? It is, of course, a necessary question for the interviewer, as they have an audience who are desperate to know more about their subject, but it makes me itch with anger every single time it is brought out. There are more pertinent questions, and ones which can expose a writer’s deepest fears and hopes, but ‘old faithful’ is trotted out to keep the conversation flowing.

Here is where I will try to show how ideas don’t ‘appear’ magically. It won’t be pretty, and it won’t be elegant, but it is the answer to that particular question.

My writing life is easy to describe – I sit at the computer (a laptop) and type. There are no strange rituals, no sacrifical lambs, no candles and blood magiks… It’s just typing, plain and simple. The nuggets of inspiration come when I least expect, and they can arrive in different forms. Sometimes I will be thinking about nothing in particular, other times I will be concentrating on a puzzle of sorts. The fun ideas nearly always come right outta leftfield.

You just have to stand in the idea stream, and let the groovy concepts wash over you. Some of them ‘take’, and feed into an idea that is already bubbling away, and other times the visual is a chunk of text on its’ own, standing apart from everything else. I had such an epiphany yesterday evening. It’s completely useless in and of itself, but it has the insane and out-of-the-box thinking which gets me excited.

I was watching a certain spacebound TV series, and the problem of ablation kept butting into my brain. Their shields are all that is protecting them? Damn, if there is a power cut they’ll be screwed. It kept nudging my enjoyment, and I finally turned the DVD off. It was about ten minutes later, while I was spinning the emptied contents of a packet of Maltesers around in a bowl when the Muse pooped. A big one. The kind of idea an FX geek would cry over, but I wasn’t looking for a neat visual.

You’re waiting on the idea, aren’t you?

Well, I got the notion, staring at balls of chocolate spinning in the plate, that a bunch of ball bearing type self-replicating droids whizzing around the surface of a spaceship would be kinda neat. I’m not writing a big SF novel though, and the idea is useless as a short. It happens all of the time, with a variety of blunt little plot and character add-ons that don’t fit anywhere without the assistance of a bloody big shoe-horn.

Will I ever use it? Prob’ly not. Is it cool? Fuckin’ A.

I’m just waiting on the Muse reading her instruction manual, and finally giving me an idea which I can use straight out of the box.


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