July 7, 2012

My Brain is a Rock Tumbler

When I was young, I used to collect stones. It didn’t matter where they came from: beaches, rivers, streams, and parking lots alike, I could always find a gem. Of course, this was where I learned that most stones look better when they’re wet, and so my room was typically filled with jars of dry, gray, and disappointing pebbles. And, of course, it never really occurred to me that a rock tumbler would do the trick, if not a good dose of oil. But by the time I came to that realization, I had already dumped the majority of my unimpressive rocks into the gravel of my old driveway. 

The thing about being a writer is that there are ideas everywhere. They are inescapable. They are noteworthy. They all have novel potential. If you are a writer, you’ve probably had one of those “oh shit" moments where you get an idea and know for a fact that you must write about it. For me, those moments usually come when I’m in the midst of another book. At that time, the new idea is fresh and certainly not ready to be written. So, as I should have done with all my pretty parking-lot-rocks and a rock tumbler when I was a child, I take the new idea, put it away in the back of my mind, and let it tumble for a few months. Then, when the idea is polished and ready, I take it out of the tumbler to add to my polished collection.

Again, you’d think I would have come up with that idea when I still had my rocks. At least I have it figured out with my novels. Because let’s face it, there are always many ideas tumbling around in my head. The real question is: which idea will I take out next?

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