Friday, July 25, 2014

Why I Can't Write Your Idea

Once in while someone comes to me (usually after a signing) saying they have the most wonderful story. They know I will just love it. They have a proposal for me. They will give me their idea. (For free, yet.)  Then I can write the story and we will split the money.

At that point I usually have a brainstorm. Why don't I give them an idea and they can do the work and we'll split the money.

Only you will have that essential emotional connection to your ideas. Your ideas will rarely stir another writer to actually sit down and produce some work. There are obvious contradictions to this, of course. Some work very effectively as collaborative writers. And one of the greatest husband and wife teams I know are Michael and Kathy Gear. But that is an entirely different process.

A book is a difficult undertaking under the best of circumstances. It requires a tremendous investment of time and energy. The idea you have will be best written by you, because of the fire in your heart. The most common reason people don't proceed is they don't think they can. "I'm not a writer," they protest. "Really. I wouldn't know where to start."

Do you think we Type M'ers know where to start, just because we are published authors? Actually, no. You would think, after all these years. . . but no! I have always believed that there are wonderful writers out there who will never experience the joy of seeing their work published because they could not stand to bat their way through the fog. Because when writing doesn't come easily, they think they have no "natural" talent.

There have been several posts about ideas on Type M recently. I've never understood where ideas come from. I'm the happiest when I've made some progress on a book and instead of being bombarded by ideas for books, stories, sewing projects, computer workarounds, my mind switches to plot problems. Plotting might be harder, but it's more comfortable than the pre-book restlessness.

One of my best short stories developed when someone asked me what I was getting my granddaughter for Christmas. I said "that depends on what the other grandmother is buying." Loved the phrase"the other grandmother." No, "the other mother" would be even better. I liked the way it rolled off my tongue. Such an unlikely source for a workable idea. The story morphed into "Any Old Mother," and was selected for the MWA anthology, Blood on Their Hands.

Only a true Kansan will connect with the precipitating idea for my next mystery, Fractured Families. Anyone care to guess? If so, tell me on the comments screen.


Eileen Goudge said...

Oh my gosh, if I had a dollar for everyone who came to me with an idea or family story I should write so we could split the profits, I'd be wealthy without having to lift a finger.
I disagree on one point, however. I don't think there are great, undiscovered talents out there unless they're in a Third World prison without access to writing tools. If you're a true writer, the urge to write supercedes all else.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Let me think about that Eileen. Much to my dismay my urge to indulge in sloth often seems to supersede my writing gene.

BUT to reinforce your point--look at R.K Rowlings. The Harry Potter series made her one of the richest women of the world and she simply can't stop writing.

Eileen Goudge said...

Ha! You're no "sloth," Charlotte. Your accomplishments speak for themselves. No one could write as many books as you have if they were lazy!