Do you know Kimberly Brock? If you don’t, you should. She is a true natural story-teller; one of those authors that I envy. Her writing is evocative, and she lays out a trail of stones that carry you places you didn’t know you had, buried deep inside. But once she holds your hand and takes you there, you’re looking around nodding, because it was a secret you hid from yourself. It’s a trip I highly recommend.
But aside from a gushing fan-girl moment, I have another reason for mentioning her. She recently wrote a blog about where ideas come from. You can read it here.
Kimberly is right; this is the second most question I’m asked when people find out I’m a writer. Right after, ‘would I know your name?’ (no), and, ‘Oh, you write romance?‘ (in a tone dripping elitism all over the floor. Do you know how hard it is to get that out of a carpet?)
It made me think about the crazy unknowable of where story ideas come from. I’ve read a lot about it, but I think Stephen King’s explanations ring truest for me. He has two theories:
- There’s this invisible power source running over our heads; a constant stream of knowledge. When an artist is lucky, he taps, or ‘plugs’ into that stream, and gets a flash of an idea. Our jobs as writers then, is to get better at how to plug into that source.
- He also has said that writing is more like paleontology – you happen upon an oddly shaped rock, and you stoop to examine it. But the piece you see is only a tiny part of the whole, so you begin digging, with shovels and picks and brushes, uncovering the story from what is not the story. That rings true to me as well.
All I know is that, as Kimberly so brilliantly said, it’s a combination – something I have buried inside me, and a rock in the path that is interesting to me only, because of what I have inside. So I have to stoop and check it out.
I’m always afraid that I’ll lose the connection to that unseen power source overhead. That my plug will break, and I’ll never get another idea. It hasn’t happened yet, but this is the kind of things writers think about when they are awake at midnight, and can’t go back to sleep.
Still want to be a writer? Yeah, me too.
And I also know that Kimberly Brock has a better connection than I. And I love her for it. She’s an inspiration.