Where the Ideas Come From

One of the ephemeral pieces of creating oneself as a writer is noticing and finding the stories you want and need to tell. Eventually, if you write enough, you start to notice that story is all around you, seeping into your coffee and stabbing you in your sleep. But it takes a while to notice it. So, here are some places I go to look for story when I need it.

1. Misheard randomness at the coffee shop.

This is from some notes I took at a cafe once, and I have no idea what this person was talking about, but I love it: I am never looking back. I am so glad I’m never looking back. I cheated and am on the moon now.

2. Bad news that is enraging.

Flint Michigan poisoning all its children with lead because their unelected city manager changed their water source to the Flint River and didn’t treat it properly. This makes me so mad and my mind starts to spin off into ways those kids might someday enact revenge on the city manager, or more positively how this could be the root for some kind of big grassroot’s campaign for justice.

3. Deranged listicles and the bananas culture of the clickbait world.

I mean, really. That edge of pop culture is so surreal. You could just take the headlines and write something near future and rad.

4. Mythologizing your own past.

Have you read Among Others, by Jo Walton? It’s her autobiography. It’s also the story about a twin girl who battled her evil mother and teamed up with faeries and what her life is like after saving the world.

5. Walking through the world quietly and observantly and seeing what happens.

If it’s good enough for my friend Walt Whitman….

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