My problem is not that I can't come up with an idea for a book. My problem is that I come up with too many.
EVERY DAY for the past several weeks I've had a brainstorm or two. At that first moment, the exhilarating instant when an idea springs forth full-formed and shining like Athena in armor, each one seems great. An hour or two later, half of them start withering and cracking and their faults start to show. Those I don't even bother to write down.
As of today, 14 have survived the first cut. Fourteen ideas for books. They are scrawled on the backs of receipts, handwritten on bits of paper torn from notebooks, spoken into recorders, and typed on the computer.They are all reasonable.
And that's the problem. Any one of them could work. So which one do I pick?
The answer, it turns out, is simple: I run them by my agent, and he ruthlessly skewers them, one by one. Here's the take-home lesson: What matters if you want to be a selling author is not only what you think is a good idea -- although good ideas are critical -- but what will fly in the marketplace.
This is the essential tension of the craft. Art and commerce. I enjoy both sides, enjoy the tension between them -- perhaps so much so that I play out this "idea time" as long as I can.