A story is not about nothing. At its core is a premise, a place, a character, a predicament. . .
Writers need ideas. We cannot live without them. We research, rummage, daydream and speculate, all for an idea. We mine, cultivate, stretch and scour for that one elusive nugget. We hunt for ideas like Ahab did the White Whale, and when we spot one, we harpoon it without remorse. Our keyboard becomes an altar wherein we assemble the pieces and then, like the good doctor, raise the monster to heaven and pray for lightning.
Ideas lurk everywhere, and finding them becomes the author’s greatest task.
But sometimes ideas find you.
Last week, about 1 AM, I awoke from a dream. It was weird, unsettling, a Kafkaesque nightmare. But its image echoed in my noggin long after my waking and I lay enthralled, unable to return to sleep, puzzling over the scene. I could not escape the sense that an idea had found me. The longer it fermented, the more distinct and whole it became. This was more than a case of indigestion, it was a visitation. It was a Story.
So I dragged myself out of bed, shuffled to my computer desk and recorded the wraith. That’s all I needed. The image had emblazoned itself in my psyche. Like a meteor plummeting through earth’s atmosphere, it had pierced a sheath, arced through my incomprehension, and left a crater in my consciousness.
So now I have another project; it’s a Story that was handed to me. All I had to do was. . . write it down.
Where do artists find ideas? That question has always intrigued me, the answers even moreso. You’ve probably developed your very own methods of “hunting” ideas, some quirky, some conventional. But after weeks — or months — of labor, wrestling against un-originality, isn’t it strange to have Inspiration just plop into your noodle? Yeah, it’s great to find ideas. But it’s even better when ideas find you.