Thursday, February 08, 2007


Midway Atoll.
Fledgling albatross are learning to fly in order to make their way out to sea.
Tiger sharks sense this and journey to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands by mid-summer.
I did some work on Midway tagging and tracking galapagos sharks with some amazing people from University of Hawaii and the Waikiki Aqauarium.
Back to our regularly scheduled program.
This particular albatross was lucky, but the one just outside the screen was not so fortunate.
I digress.
We will not be talking about birds today.
We will be talking about ideas...

8:30 pm and 77 degrees.
It was there. Just in the back of my mind. A thought. A premise.
Back again. I write ten pages. The story goes nowhere.
Dead end.
Why did I think that story had possibilities?
I dreamt about it last night. The plot worked perfectly. It was brilliant. In my dreams I walked to my computer and wrote it all down.
But alas, it was just my imagination.
In the morning my words appear sluggish and banal through my caffeine self-medication.
Some ideas take you all the way to the end of the story and back.
Like Lottery. Carrying me along in a river of inspiration.
It all came alive and wrote itself. Fully formed inside my brain.
And others?
Well lets just say.
They vaporized.
But we are watchful and we wait.
For their return.
So tell me.
Which of yours eluded capture.
And got away.


Sam said...

Ideas are always popping into my head, but not all of them become stories. I tend to let the idea alone for a while, figuring that if it's interesting enough, it will come back and haunt me.
A lot of my stories come from dreams. Horse Passages came from a dream - just an image of horses galloping then vanishing into a mist curtain. I woke up and had to figure that one out!

Kiskadee said...

The story of White Night popped fully formed into my head. With the others, the stories developed as fast as I wrote them; usually I had no idea where the plot was going as I wrote, and was as surprised as a reader would be!
I firmly believe that stories DO form themselves completely in the back of our minds; all we have to do is gain access to them. Somehow.

KRStagliano said...

Before I wrote Extra Sensory Deception I had started a Robin Cook style thriller where a pharmaceutical company poisoned childhood vaccines on purpose to change the learning ability of the growing generation to suit political purposes. Then I read Evidence of Harm and realized the story had already been told - as non-fic.....


Kimber An said...

I always write down my ideas immediately in my Dump Book (cheap notebook into which I dump my thoughts.) Even if they stink on their own, sometimes they combine to form great ideas and sometimes they spawn great ideas.

I love the photograph by the way!

Anissa said...

I'm more like Sam. If an idea sticks with me, I will finally write it down just to free my brain of the pesky little bugger. Lots of ideas float through, but only the truly persistent get attention. Otherwise I'd be slave to every random thing that caught my eye.

Great topic. I'm curious to see how everyone else deals with this.

Katie said...

Like so many others, I put ideas into cold storage. I do have what I call the Front Burner, the exalted lineup of my "next four", and only once in a blue moon does something make it to that list. Otherwise, it simmers (potentially for years), and if it's still worth pursuing when I get to it, I'll give it a whack.

ORION said...

This is very interesting. I also make sure I write each idea down and many times they are in the form of "started novels." Once I did have an opportunity to use one "inside" another novel.

Demon Hunter said...

Very rarely do I forget ideas. I try to jot down the idea and the title, if I have one, which I do most times. I sometimes have ideas pop into my mind while driving on the interstate and I can't write and swerve all over the road. So by the time I get home, I have already forgotten.
Most become novels, and the others, short stories, and movie scripts.

Michelle Zink said...

My typical process is to start 2-3 books at a time (I'm a nutjob, I know!) and then watch... and wait.

Before long one of them takes on a life of their own.

It keeps me up nights.

I dream about it.

It pulls me back and back to the computer.

So I run with that one, and put the other ones on hold. Consequently, I have about ten partially finished novels sitting on my hard drive.

When I get bored (uh, yeah, with four kids that happens A LOT!) or am between projects, I'll take a look at them again to see if they warrant a fresh crack.

Thanks for the post - gorgeous pic, as usual!

Therese Fowler said...

The one that got away...

A story about two women in India. One an American WASP Ph.D. candidate, the other a native.

A contrast of cultures, a sharing of common humanity, with rapidly changing India as a sort of character in its own right.

When I'm not hard at work on whatever's in progress, this is the one that burbles in the background.