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Ideas and Inspiration

Happy Monday, everyone!  I know it's a lot later than I normally try to post, but today was quite the day.  Drumroll, please... I'm back in New York for work!  Yes, yes, I do still work a full time job, on top of my writing and podcasting endeavors.  One day I hope to not be so busy with side projects, but what can I say - side hustling is how my brain works.  Anyway.  Today in my Monday writing segment, I'm going to talk about ideas.  Sound vague?  Let me explain.

Every great story is born out of a simple idea.  Sometimes, I'm struck with inspiration.  Other times, the idea ruminates for a while before I start writing it down so I don't lose it.  It sort of depends on the story.  I'll give you a couple of examples.

The Long Road to Love

The Long Road to Love was my very first novel, writing in a creative writing class in college.  It was a spring semester class, so February was our month of writing the whole thing, NaNoWriMo style.  At the time, I was six months removed from the most terrible break up of my life (granted, I haven't been through all that many break ups, but it was still the worst by far), and I was learning to love myself again.  That was my inspiration.  I looked at where I was in life and I used it as the basis of my very first semi-thriller (I didn't know it was a thriller at the time, but looking back, it definitely has the elements of a thriller).

Something Beautiful

I've talked about Something Beautiful before, I know.  That was another NaNoWriMo piece, and I think it only took me 3 weeks to write the full rough draft.  That one was inspired by my childhood best friend.  It was less than a month before Minnesota (where I was living at the time) voted on a bill that could have made gay marriage unconstitutional, and that inspired the whole story of these two best friends who both fell in love and into a partnership.  I got some notes from an agent in the last week (ironically, I think I received them on Wednesday, when my last querying post went live), and I've been realizing that I'm going to have to change some of the story in order to make it work as a book.  But that doesn't change the fact that it came from a place where the line between friends and lovers meets, where acceptance and hate collide.  This story, more than any other, is my baby.

You Better Run

I wanted to write a story about a person who felt the need to run in order to stay sane.  I had also just read Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, and I wanted to flip that story on its head a little.  What if the girl was a runner, but it was because she was working up the nerve to leave her abusive partner?  What if it was a celebrity who was the perceived victim, but also the abuser?  It was these questions that got me starting to write this story.

Chasing Calli

If you went back and read old posts on this blog, it would be pretty easy to see that I am a runner.  Again, I wanted to write about a runner, but also make that a plot point.  So I started asking similar questions as last time.  What if the girl was such a good runner that she started training with a college track team in the off season?  What if one of her college teammates raped her at age 15 (so it was also statutory), but her whole hometown took his side?  I also really wanted to explore mental illness, specifically depression.  These laid the foundation for what is becoming Chasing Calli, although I haven't finished writing it yet.  I sure wish there were more hours in the day (and I didn't spend so many of my hours on planes)!

What is my point?  Inspiration can come from anywhere.  I come from a scientific background, so I usually let my ideas marinate for a while before I start writing anything.  Just today, I outlined a new idea for a new adult story about a girl finding herself after college, and I did it on an index card while my dog ate his breakfast.  I had a research advisor during my short stint as a PhD student who used to call his house from his cell phone and leave himself messages so that he remembered all of his ideas.  It's funny how each person does things a little bit differently.  In the end, the method doesn't matter - what's more important is the idea and the story that supports it.

How do you record your ideas?  I'd love to hear how other people's brains work!


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