I’m starting a new WIP.
Where did this come from?
Oh god, I’m stealing left and right. Because I like ‘what ifs.’ What if I took what I know about science-fiction, and put it in a fantasy? What if I mixed Cyberpunk’s vision of the future and put it in a fantasy world? What if I grabbed the aesthetic and themes of Deus Ex and mixed it with magic and swashbuckling? What if I pulled the ‘on the edge’ found family of Firefly into a classic naval adventure? What if…? What if…? What if…? What if…
… and something new emerges.
This Unblock Challenge is using Chris Hau’s Unblock deck, and while it was made for all creatives it clearly wasn’t made by a writer. Because you never, ever ask a writer where their ideas come from.
Once again I quote Neil Gaiman:
Writers are awful to who ask us where we get our ideas. We get mean— we don’t just get mean, we get mean in a writery way, which means we’ll make fun of you. And we do that, the reason we do that, is because we don’t really know.
Neil goes on saying that every writer he knows has a funny answer to this question. He mentions Harlan Ellison, and how he said he gets them from a little idea shop.
In my case, I don’t yet have a sufficiently funny answer other than “I’m stealing them left and right.” And it’s sort of funny because it’s true. I get inspired by things, and they set up shop in my head, and start offering their wares to my subconscious and my imagination.
Analytically speaking, I pretty much know exactly where this new WIP comes from. But because it’s a WIP, and it’s new, I don’t know where it’ll end up. Or what it’ll end up being. Ideas, even stolen ones, are but a jumping off point, a spark of a match put to a bunch of firewood that you can’t even see yet.
On his blog, Neil writes:
The Ideas aren't the hard bit. They're a small component of the whole. Creating believable people who do more or less what you tell them to is much harder. And hardest by far is the process of simply sitting down and putting one word after another to construct whatever it is you're trying to build: making it interesting, making it new.
Shakespeare stole wholesale from his peers, but we don’t blame him for it. I’m not Shakespeare, but I’m a writer, too.
I’m not ashamed of stealing ideas. I’d be ashamed of taking ideas and present them as my own. If I’m doing it right, if I stay true to how I want to do this writing thing, the pressure of coming up with “whole new” stuff is too much. Nobody cares where the ideas come from. What matters is how you end up renewing them.
So with that, I’m dumping a bunch of stolen ideas into a pot, because it’s time to cook some stew of my own. And of course, being terrified of a blank page, I had to put the first sentence down, knowing full well I’ll strike it out as soon as there’s another.
I stole that first sentence from Snoopy. So there.