Or, where Ideas come from.

(meant to post this yesterday but I had stuff happen that took my attention away. Bad stuff that turned into good stuff. I hope)

No this isn't going to be some treatise on a bunch of generic random geo-political dog wagging. Mostly because the cause of war can usually be boiled down to one word: greed.

But again, this isn't about that. Well, almost not about that. It's about where Ideas come from. Yes, the capital 'I' is intentional. 

Now, before I go any farther let me put out the standard disclaimer. These are my opinions and thoughts. And statements that even remotely look definitive are about me. Not the rest of the world.

When I did the interview for Instant Karma with Valerie Clark there was a good long post-interview ramble session after in which we talked about just about anything that came up. One of the questions she asked early on, and one in which I've been asked several times, is where did I get the idea for Garden Wars or Chronicles or any other of the bits I've written.

It's a subject that a lot of writers struggle with; where to get ideas. And the answer is different for everyone.  This, is just a smidge of how it works for me.

Some people will tell you that they come from little Story delivering storks that fly by and dive-bomb you with a myriad of thoughts and suggestions and ideas hoping that one sticks or catches on. These Story transport vehicles are also know as Muses. 

A Muse is either a guiding spirit or a source of inspiration (unless you take the literal meaning of them being the nine daughters of Zeus). So either people are waiting on a guiding spirit to point them in the right direction or they are waiting for something to inspire them.

I'm not going to go off on you about whether or not you should be waiting for inspiration to strike (you shouldn't) or whether on not you need to wait for your 'Muse' to speak to you before writing something (again, no).

I'm just going to tell you what I do. I play.

Seriously. Or do yard work. Or take a long drive. Anything to, not so much occupy my mind, but something in which I'm not actively using it. The key word be 'actively'.

There are many studies that show that we are far more creative when we play or do something that engages other parts of our brains other than those used to write or create.

And anecdotically speaking I fine this to be completely on target. I came up with the idea for Zed the zombie hunter while cleaning up peach pits in the yard. Honest. 

I have a big yard but we fenced off part of it so the pups could run around freely without needing to be watched every second. It's about a fourth of the total acreage but is still fairly big. Anyway, I have two peach trees, one of which use to have huge branches that reached inside the fenced area and would drop a lot of peaches that would then start to rot.

So I'd have to clean them up so the pups didn't eat them and get sick. One day I thought, as I was picking them up and heaving them into the woods out back, Wonder if you could kill a zombie with a peach pit? Probably if you threw it hard enough, or used a slingshot maybe. But why? Or who? Who would use a peach pit just because it was handy and available and a bit prolific? OOoo.. a zombie bounty hunter might.

And thus the seeds of Zed was born.

The point is that stories can come from anywhere at any time and you shouldn't wait on someone or something else to inspire you.

Take a peak at the headlines for the NY Times when I wrote this. The top six were:

Justices Allow Police to Take D.N.A. Samples After Arrests
The Brawley Case: Legacy of a False Claim
Court-Martial of Soldier Opening in WikiLeaks Case
Senator Frank R. Lautenberg Dies at 89
As ‘Superbugs’ Rise, Pressure Grows for New Antibiotics
Women in Senate Confront Military on Sex Abuse

Any one of these with one or two aspect changed could be a story. Or mix a couple. The ones that jumped at me were the False Claim and the Superbugs. Combined you could develop a bio terror story where it's discovered that the claims of the last 50 years regarding antibiotics were false and that they did indeed create super bugs, and that was intentional so that companies could developer new drugs to treat those and make more money.

Just two headlines from a single newspaper. 

Or, say after a weather alert like a hurricane or tornado, you find out that it didn't happen. That the forecasters were wrong. (This happens a LOT in New England). What if the forecast wasn't about weather but rather about the end of the world. And they kept getting it wrong. <a href="http://www.projectmagnus.org/fiction/the-end-of-the-world-has-been-postponed/">Like this</a>

Or going Matrix on a pack of fleas while doing housework.

All these stories are ideas (lowercase 'i'). Then there are Ideas (uppercase 'I').

Ideas (uppercase) are one that you can't get out of your head or one that you keep circling back to over and over until you do something about it. Garden Wars is a perfect example.

Many moons ago in the land where GooglePlusia and Blisstopia meet there was an Idea that got dropped. The Ideas was dropped by Bliss herself as an off handed remark about something she was thinking about.

I sorta want to write a story of a country, Scithia, on the verge of war. Historical/medieval fantasy. The royal color would be a bright yellow, to favor precious gold. Army of wand-wielding mages.

And so comes the day of great battle, and hundreds of grown men charge yellow-clad forth, sticks held high as they roar, "FOR SCYTHIA!"

That idea stuck in my head all day. My mind kept going back to that image over and over, trying to figure out how and why it was there.

When I got home that night and had finished dinner I sat down and wrote a little story about that scene. Just a thousand words, because I had to get it out of my head. 

I posted it and that was that.

Except it wasn't. 

Weeks later while cleaning up my desk I stumbled across my Nintendo DS. Inside was the game cartridge Rise of the Fungi.

I'll bet you can guess what happened next. The idea of a sequel to the Garden War story (yes, it was singular back then) wormed it's way into my head. So I sat down and wrote out the Rise story. Posted it and walked away.

Except I couldn't. It stuck in my head and I kept coming back to it. It didn't help that several people kept pushing me to turn it into a bigger story. So I did. I started writing a weekly serial and next thing I know it's 12 weeks old and things are getting fun!

Chronicles is the same. Except much, much older. So old I don't remember how it came into being. I've had the idea for Chronicles for about 15 years. I've written it in every format know (screenplay, comic book, audio play) but none ever worked, each for their own reason.

Eventually I broke it down and turned it into a serial which got picked up by Curiosity Quills and is running splendidly!

The point of all this is that my story ideas can come from anywhere.  I don't wait for something to inspire me.  I have a personal rule that I have to come up with at least 1 viable, workable idea every day.  There is a 90% chance that idea won't ever see the light of day, but it might :)

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Project: Magnus » Armageddon has been postponed
Morton Penwinkle stood watching the skies. He wasn’t so much watching them as waiting for them to fall and he wanted to be sure he was looking when it started. He shoved his hands deep in his pockets, it was after all fairly cold, and stamped his feet to make sure he stayed warm.