I can be happily walking my dog. Taking a shower. Eating breakfast. Watching a movie. Riding in the car with my husband. In the middle of a damn REM cycle.
And the voice comes.
“What if…,” It says as an opening.
The voice is a book trying to push its way through the birth canal that is my brain. Okay, so that elicits a pretty graphic mental image of blood and viscera and a lot of heavy breathing and grunting–and those are usually things people don’t want to imagine when thinking of the creative process.
But it’s a pretty good analogy, honestly. An idea popping into a writer’s head is almost like a birth. And it’s the best kind of birth because it comes with the best gender reveal party.
Congratulations! It’s a book!
Regardless of the oogey feelings this analogy elicits, a sudden spark of an idea that pops into my brain suddenly is where almost every book starts. It’s where the book first starts its life. It’s not when I create the Word file (yeah, come at me), or type the first word, or start outlining. It’s a single thought.
Some of my books have started with a fully formed plot popping into my head. Or a wish to write a type of story that everyone loves, but make it queer. I guess, when you think about it, that’s how my writing career began.
Not that I’m even close to being the first writer to think of just taking a traditional Young Adult trope and making it Queer AF, but that’s how I started. The simple idea that I loved a story I had read, but wanted to see it with leading characters who were queer is a good start.
So, any idea that pops into my head–regardless of when or where that happens–can lead to great ideas. I just need my brain to give birth to a book baby, and I can start the rest of the steps.
A non-comprehensive list of simple thoughts that have popped into my head in the past that have led to published books:
Can anyone really plot out their coming-out?
What if two boys could only be friends during summer?
What would a celebrity do if they were worn out and had to return to their sleepy hometown?
Can Othello be made queer?
Can I explain how one night can become an epic love story?
Mistaken Identity: Sex Worker Edition.
All of these thoughts have led to whole ass books being written and then being published. Sometimes, a simple, intriguing thought can get me more excited to outline and/or write an entire book more than a complex, fully fleshed out one. In fact, it can be more exciting simply because there’s so much possibility. So much discovery to be done. I’m going into the story completely blind, willing to let the characters tell me what needs to happen.
I give myself over to The Muse and just go with it.
Often, those are my favorite books. The ones where I don’t think about “does this work” or “does that work” or “will people like this” or “is this going to be an issue?” I just run with the idea and write it the way it unfurls as I go. It feels completely free, uninhibited, and thrilling. I feel like a real creative. A real writer.
I’m not just some guy writing a story because I think it might sell a few copies. I am actually creating for the sake of creating.
So, next time the Book Stork™ slides into your brain and deposits a brain fetus, don’t fight it. Just go with it. It might turn into some of your best work.
Horrible analogies aside, of course.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,