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How Ideas Come

I wish I knew the answer to that title because it would make my life easier.  Easier, and perhaps not as interesting.  Definitely not as interesting.  I wouldn't be walking around the planet thinking about ideas, wondering if such and such could be told.  Or wandering around imagining what hasn't been told (nothing) or what way I could tell it again, in a different way, from a different perspective.

And it's just about wondering and wandering time, and I'm starting to get that itchy feeling, jonesing for another story.  Now that this novel in progress is about to make it's cyber journey to my agent, I am thinking about the next one.  Yes, you say, I haven't given this one time to end.  But that's not really how I work. I am a junkie for the story in motion, the story that comes out, the story of the moment.  I like the ride of the tale as it wants to come out, the tale that wants to flow.

Of course, coming up with an idea that sticks isn't as easy as coming up with an idea.  Here are some that didn't make it very far:

  • The story of a particular queen of Denmark, one who has some pretty dysfunctional men in her life, one dead and yet still able to throw out the guilt.  But wait--she's actually in love.  She's actually having the time of her life until--until she finds out the truth!  Her new husband murdered her first husband.  Ak!  But before we go there, let's look at the passion of her few months of new life, new promise.  Then we can kill her off.  The problem here is how to make this at all readable as pretty much everyone will know how it ends, a big pile of Shakespearean dead bodies in the middle of the room.
  • A woman on vacation in Oaxaca with her useless, pain-in-the-ass boyfriend.  She would have broken up with him months ago, except she really has no energy to change her life.  While on vacation, she and said loser get separated, and she ends up meeting this pretty fab dude at a bar.  Both of them end up strolling along at a local festival, when they, yes, step into another time, about 500 years in the past.  But wait, it's not a very happy other world.  It's a world of the tribal past of this particular region, where every year at the festival they were just at, virgins are sacrificed.  And sadly, they find themselves completely changed in body and form, find themselves to be about eleven years of age.  Bingo, they are the virgins.  Mayhem ensues.
  • The story of a magic mother and her three daughters.  The mother is like--yes--queen and ruler of these magic people, and the youngest daughter, our hero, doesn't want to join her in her wild magic life.  Until she meets the amazing man ext door and they--well, I didn't get that far.
  • Something about two teenaged girls, best friends, and one gets abducted.  I think I made it to page 15 on this one, and it was too depressing, even for me.

There are just a few of the ideas that rumbled around in my head and then sputtered and died.  For a while--an hour, a day, a week--these stories were what made me tick, what gave me that little warm butternut of happiness.  Having a story to tell is like having a really good secret, one that eventually you can share and no one gets made that you do (except for those on Amazon.com who don't LIKE the story).

Today will be about finishing up the last touches of my manuscript before sending it off to my agent.  In the weeks that follow, I will inevitably do more revisions, more changes, and depending on where it goes, I will have more to do then.  So I know it's not done, but it's done in the rush way, the flow way, the wave way of story.  Now, it's more about ironing, cleaning, primping, styling.  I've slicked down its hair, shined its shoes, and sent it to school with a note pinned on its collar.

Please wish it luck.


8 Comment count
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Good luck to your book!

I'm SO amazed and impressed by you, your easy flow of creativity, your wealth of ideas, and your sheer speed as a writer. it takes you, like, five minutes to do a month's worth of work for me. I think *I* write at a reasonable pace, then I look at you and I realize that in comparison I'm swimming in slow motion through molasses, stopping frequently to stare into space, and meanwhile you've chugged three espressos and tooted a line of coke. Not judging either style, just marveling ...

Here's to your new book. May it have a happy reception!

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There is something to be said for slowing down

And in no part of my life have I been able to do it.  I think I should give slowing down a go, but I don't have the time!

I am a nutbar.

Thank you for the good wishes, and lord knows, I will keep you posted.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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Check my blog later today-I'm doing a special one call "Plug it, Work it, Brag About It" where I'm inviting people to plug their work, where they're going to be, if they have finished anything, etc.

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Okay. I've made a post it to try to remember

But that part of my brain doesn't work well.  After I do some yard work and hedge the hedges, I will come back and check.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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Did you kiss the package at the PO?

Great post, Jessica. And Great good luck.

A window into your fine noggin with multiple drawers like a rolltop desk with nooks, crannies and pigeon holes.  If you want to trade brains with me, I'd be happy to trade mine.  If neurologist were able to map your brain, the part for imagination must be really lighting up.

I am happy and relieved just to be on cruise control for the moment. I know what I want to write/draw for the next adult book but that project is still a year or more away. I've shut down that story search mode for the children's picture books as I really can't walk and chew gum at the same time.

PS--Your invitation to visit your students...I'd have to get the spitting on the shoes of hurful people out of the way first. 

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I would love to trade brains

Let's set up a swap.

So when you get over wanting to spit on my students, I'd love to have you visit.  I can work and get real live money, too, but need time, fortitude, and a semester to apply for funds.  We have a graphic novel and children's literature classes on campus, so it's likely I could get you a crowd.  And they would be respectful, not throw playdough around.  I will sit in the back and yank on people's collars if they do.  And then spit.

But seriously, it could be very fun.  But stay in cruise control for now! Enjoy your process!  I"m going out to hedge.

And--a baby squirrel was just looking at me, and I know he's thinking about how to go poo on my deck.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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In my case

The story line for Plasma Dreams was just waiting for me....perhaps for 75 years.  In 1987, I was working for the UCLA Plasma Physics department.  I was scrounging around this ancient physics lab "Room 71F."  In fact, "71F" was the name of the book until the last minute before my agent sent it out....Plasma Dreams was his suggestion...and in retrospect, it really couldn't have been named differently.

In any case, Room 71F was an archaeological dig of experimental physics.  Seven decades of experiments had been set up...and never dismantled.  Planks of plywood were just laid over the older "failures" and new instrumentation just laid on top.  An odd thought occurred to me.  What if nuclear fusion had been perfected back in, say, 1930, but simply got buried underneath the rubble of  other, more pressing, experiments?  Stranger things happen all the time.  From there on out, the story wrote itself.  I already had the perfect protagonist....modeled on a Chinese grad student I worked with for about ten years....whose main activity was complaining about living in Alaska while working on her Ph.D.  The perfect reluctant hero!

I don't have the brains to make any of this up....which is a tremendous relief!  I just have to keep my eyes open, and poke around where I'm not supposed to be poking around.  

When it gets right down to it, isn't that every writer's job?


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I think you are right

We are here to poke and then write about it.  So I will commence on poking about.


Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com