All writers have been asked that question. That one wince inducing question at least once, and most of us have heard it more times than we can count. I don’t think we dislike the question because we’ve been asked it a dozen time (though that’s probably part of the problem), we hate the question because it begs for answers we don’t really have.
Where do you get your ideas?
How do you answer a question like that? I mean, it’s not like we have a Magic 8 Ball with a million ideas in it and we don’t go to the grocery store and pick up a few ideas with a gallon of milk in the morning.
The honest answer most of the time, is we don’t know. We can be doing dishes, staring out the window, walking down the street, driving the kids to school, and an idea will hit us. They often come out of nowhere, usually when our hands are full and there’s not a scrap of paper for miles. The ones we do catch are hit or miss. Sometimes we keep them and other times we realize they suck and dismiss them. That’s the boring answer and the honest answer you may or may not believe.
Don’t believe me?
Okay, fine. I’ll tell you the real secret.
*looks around the room*
You really want to know?
There’s this store you see. No, more like a warehouse. By invite only. We have a secret hand shake and everything. The section I visit, its run by hot men, wearing little or no clothes. The lights are low and the shelves are lined with industrial steel and broken glass. A kaleidescope of jars and bottles in all colors, shapes and sizes fill each shelves three rows deep. One of the men will offer to take the jar of your choice off the shelf. You don’t have much time to choose, they charge by the hour.
There are lines and lines of shelves set up in a labyrinth around the warehouse. You have to be careful, one wrong turn down the maze like corridors can land you in the dungeons or the anti-gravity room. I’ve even heard of authors getting so lost they had to send centaurs in after them. That’s not really my thing though.
Some authors get so overwhelmed they stand in the center of the warehouse uncertain where explore first, and others so desperate for ideas, they race through the shelves pointing as shiny jars as they run. Deadlines are a bitch you know.
We fill our little hand baskets trying to shield our choices from other authors as we rush out the door and back to our writing rooms. Then, one by one, we uncork our treasures and inhale the sweet aroma of a new idea and we begin to write. When we need a new idea, we open another jar and hope for the best.
The idea store is expensive. And will cost you at least a royalty check 😉 .
And THAT my friends is where we authors get our ideas.