November 17, 2007
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I’m at a convention right now, in chilly Chicago. One of the best things about these conventions is how inspiring they are. I always come home bursting with ideas and plans. Of course, very few of those ever get done, but there are a couple stories (“Common and Precious” among them) that got kick-started by discussions at these conventions.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have conventions in the genre they choose to write in, though I think a “general fiction” convention would be a fun idea. But that’s an aspect of community that I don’t think I’ve really touched on before. We know how helpful a workshop can be to developing your technique and polishing your prose, but be sure to take time just to kick ideas around. Talk about that weird dream you had that had the germ of a good story idea in it, or the news story that you thought might have an interesting twist. I find that in my day job or in my writing, I work better when I have someone to bounce ideas off of. (Our screenwriting workshop actually has been doing very little actual workshopping recently, but even in our socializing, we throw around interesting ideas and I think at least one has sparked a screenplay.)
The convention, by the way, is going pretty well so far! My publisher inadvertantly left behind all the copies of my book to sell, but hey, I’m getting inspired, and that’s worth the trip right there. :)
I just finished “Tithe” by Holly Black (review forthcoming) and was struck by a linking theme between that and the Harry Potter books, which I’m listening to on audio (just started book 6, so I’m ahead of schedule). Both of them deal with magical worlds that exist side by side with our own, below the surface, as it were. Now, I have no desire to write a story about a wizarding world (Rowling pretty much owns that space), nor about faerie (not without becoming a lot more conversant in the extensive discourse going on with those worlds–I am familiar with some of it, like Greg Bear’s excellent “Songs of Earth and Power,” but I never read, for instance, any of the <color> Fairy books, and I am largely unaware of the current flood of YA urban fantasy out there, though taking steps to remedy that). However, that line of thought did give me an idea, which turned into a story, and in the space of a day, I have another idea for a book to write.
This is cool. This is spectacularly fun. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get any of the current projects I’m working on finished any faster, nor does it give me any more time in the day to take care of this idea. The good news is that this story is probably a shorter novel than I’m accustomed to writing, and the idea is one of those burning ones (in Greg Bear’s parlance, a vibrant new world) that supplies a lot of its own energy.
Now I just need a month off to write it. So what do you do when you get an idea like that? Put it on the shelf and finish your current projects, or dive right into it and figure the others will take care of themselves eventually?