I think almost any writer will tell you that this is one of the first questions they are ever asked, and different writers have different answers. If you don’t believe me, go take a look at Kaaron Warren’s blog where there is a strand called “Sparks”. Kaaron invited various people, including yours truly, to write specifically about a particular idea for a particular book or story; they are fascinating insights.
With T-minus-5 days until the Mslexia prize is announced, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about what I’d like to do next, what I have ideas for. I’m planning another novel, but I’m also putting together some tales for Mslexia’s short story competition. I wanted to submit three, and already had two in draft form that I’ve been knocking into shape. The third was proving more elusive. So, off I went to flick through my notebooks in search of an idea to work on.
I don’t know how many times I’ve had an idea and then forgotten it. The ideas seem so good, so vivid, in the moment, that I’m always convinced I’ll remember them, and I never do. Time and disappointment have taught me to make notes of ideas, so I carry a moleskine around with me for the very purpose of recording them for later use. Sometimes, I just write a word or a sentence, sometimes a little more than that.
So, I picked up one of my dog-eared little books and began to riffle through it. Behold! There I found exactly what I was looking for. I found an idea. It didn’t at first feel like an idea, and I haven’t got a clue what I was thinking when I wrote the note. Having left the kernel in my hindbrain for a day or two, however, I’ve stopped tutting at myself, and I’ve worked up a neat little plot that should make the sort of story I like to tell.
My note read, “You would, though, wouldn’t you?”