Ideas creep up on me.
They rarely come from the what if game, and I don’t often get them from people. Occasionally a toss-away sentence or particular laugh, twitch, or pair of shoes will inspire a thought that leads to a story. But people annoy me, and annoyance isn’t the right place from which to seek creativity.
When I want ideas, I go outside. If I can, I sit in the grass, close my eyes, and listen. Most of my ideas float up as images – images of a person, a place, a moment of action, or a colorful emotion. Once I have that seed I let it germinate. I bury it in the dark, wet places of my imagination and see what grows. Sometimes I’m conscious of every painful part of the process. I feel the tiny roots twisting around in my brain matter, the leaves unfurling, the buds held tight, and the thorns pushing, cutting, jabbing at me for attention. Other times I forget about the thought, and days or weeks or months later when the petals bloom, they scrapes at the back of my eyeballs and I have a story ready for its words.
And then there are the rare occasions of bliss when the words form first, before I have any idea what I’m writing. Letters, words, sentences appear before my eyes and I’m screwed if I am not near a computer or notebook or bits of scrap paper. I love these moments of communion best, even though as often as not they don’t produce anything that will ever – or should ever – be a story. They are only words, only captured pieces of beauty that I’ve managed to get under my fingernails as I scratch up at the sky.