And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I saw the ocean's daughter, walking on a wave's chicane, staring as she called my name

One of the questions (I'm told) authors get all the time is "Do I need/Where can I get an agent?"

Don't think so, but it helps, and I have no idea. Ask me once I'm a published novelist.

The other question they get is "Where do you get your ideas?"

Don't think so, but it helps, and I have no idea. :) Okay, really, this is where we (we, ha!) get all mystical or existential to baffle the uninitiated while we attempt to escape by gnawing off whatever limb is trapped.

It's almost, but not entirely unlike riding a bike. Good enough? No? Okay.

Sometimes, in hind sight, you can see, "Well, I put together this, that, and the other obscure piece of information, mixed well while listening to Rush's Farewell to Kings and out of the oven popped this baby."

That's also BS. It's really Pink Floyd's Animals, but don't tell anybody else I told ya.

Another thing some people are doing is giving their notes for Confusion, or "What I did on my Winter Vacation."

This all makes sense, trust me. Okay, well, enough sense that surrounds how at least I get ideas.

So, I'm listening to a panel at Confusion, "Evolving as a SF Writer" I think (I'll check my notes when I get home). I'm taking notes dutifully (you do take notes at panels, right? Try to pick the fruit out of the air as the panelists throw it out there, like a bad vaudeville show in reverse) when all of a sudden.

"Hey, Steve, I've got this idea," comes the Muse a knocking.

"Um, I'm kinda busy right at the moment," I whisper as softly as possible, so the people sitting next to me won't think I'm a fruitcake.

"Sure, no problem, I've been thinking about a vacation, say to Brittany, Might stay a few decades there."

I make a bunch of mental hand-waving gestures. "Okay, okay, what have ya got?"

"You know when Sarah Zettel was just talking about how the Illiad starts with 'I sing the wrath of Achilles'? Well, I was thinking that this novel wasn't so much, 'The Post-Rapture romantic comedy for the rest of us,' but was more, 'Casablanca in the Raptured World, but Rick gets Ilsa in the end, mix with the whole Eurydice thing.' Write that down."

"But, Steve and Rachel make it out together."

"It's good, trust me, write it down."

To appease my Muse, I write it down in the upper margin. "Still doesn't make much sense, there's no Nazis or Vichey, and didn't Orpheus look back and lose Eurydice?"

"Sure, but hey, that makes your opener, 'I sing the end of days and the start of love. Fill my sails, Muse, and guide me to the thrashing shore.'" (that last part was more like 15 minutes of hashing about)

"Okay, hey, that's cool," I say writing it down. "Not exactly good, but I like it. I still don't understand the Casablanca part, though."

"Don't worry, we can work on it. And then we can make the quote for Act 2 'Is this the face that launched a thousand road trips?'"

"There's the Illiad," I say, scribbling that down as I'm slowly disassociating from the panel discussion and the notes I'm taking on that. "Okay, so we have three acts in the book. What's the other two openers?"

"Act 3, yeah, this is good, 'There and back again, with occasional music'." Her smile I can feel all the way down to my toes. ('Occasional Music' came later)

"Not bad, not very Greek," I've made a little chart on the side of the page to put in the data that's going to come piece meal.

"I didn't say it was all Greek. Hey, and then the end piece is, 'They lived, happily.'"

"Good, I wouldn't want it to be a fairy tale. Well, too much of a fairy tale."

"Don't worry, I'll steer you clear of that. And, oh, wait, I forgot the Casablanca part. The opener should be, 'I sing the end of days and the start of a beautiful friendship.'"

"That's excellent," I say, scribbling out notes and writing that in. "What about Act 1?"

"Don't push me. I can go to Mont St. Michel. It's nice this time of century," she folds her arms and glares at my brain.

"Okay, okay. It's just a hole here on my chart. And St. Michel is in Normandy anyway."

"It's still in France, just up the coast. And I'd come back with muddy footprints. Don't worry, we'll get that Act 1 quote. But I like what we have so far. That's good enough for now."

At that point the panel concluded and I had to look like I wasn't talking to myself as people started to mill around and shuffled in and out.

So there it is. We're all bat-shit crazy and hearing voices in our heads. Happy enough? Now, excuse me, I need to go get a new tin-foil hat.

Do they still make tin-foil? Or is it all aluminum foil? Oh wait, that gives me another idea...


Todd Wheeler said...

Nice work. No matter how the idea happens, best to pay attention.

If only we had a recorder in our heads to transcribe these ideas. And maybe those voices would sound strange out loud like our voices do on tape. And what if ...

Matt Mitchell said...

"she folds her arms and glares at my brain"

I hate that.


Steve Buchheit said...

Thanks, Todd. Yeah, I wish I had that recorder in my head. I'm getting better with remembering ideas if I can't get them down right away, but I've had to many slip through the cracks. Also, just like this post, I'm much better when the original idea hits, instead of recreating it later (I knew I had to write this post as it came to me, it's a true story, although I've punched it up for humor's sake). I've been thinking of making a copy of that notebook page so people can see the multi-layered rewriting in the margins.

Matt, yep, I hate it when she does that. 'Cause it's not like I can ignore her.