Where do you get your ideas?
We all hate being asked that question, partly because there’s almost never a good answer, but also because it’s probably the wrong question in the first place.
[When people ask me, I always say I bid for my ideas on eBay].
I think a better question is: what does it feel like to have an idea?
That’s a question I can give a real answer to, particularly because I’ve just had an idea. I don’t mean just an idea, by the way – we get those all the time. This one is an Idea, and those come along once in a blue moon. Not just a small idea, such as my sudden realisation that it would be good to get a cider from the fridge before sitting down to write this. This is a big Idea – the kind that grabs you by the throat and won’t let go. Ideas like that feel like revelations, and they can change everything. And they have.
So what does it feel like to have an idea?
One analogy is that having an idea is like having fireworks going off in your brain. It’s been used before, but it happens to be an almost perfect piece of imagery, and the closer you look at it, the more apt it feels.
This is not just because a big idea gives you a “whizz bang!” feeling, with that rush of wonderful excitement. The image of a firework going off is also a perfect metaphor for how the idea is born, and grows.
So we begin with a spark. The spark could be anything. An overheard remark, seeing something at just the right moment, a train of thought that goes somewhere unexpected. Whatever it is, if it hits a mind in the right state, a firework is lit. As it goes off the idea expands in your mind. Then, as it spreads, it creates other, smaller explosions in the air all around it.
So a truly big Idea is an idea that spawns more ideas until your whole mind is lit up with possibilities. All of a sudden, as the ideas burst through your skull in a barrage, you can’t sit still. Your hands start to itch for the keyboard. You want to be alone to start writing right away. But no! No, you want to rush off and tell everyone about it! You don’t know what you want to do, but you do know that you’re all over the place. And, in that one moment, everything feels so right.
Some people have only one Idea in their whole lives. Some have a few. Others never have one. It all depends on how your mind is wired, and how much stimulation it gets.
Of course, this is just how it feels for me. I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, but I have a strong suspicion that it’s a common experience. In any case, I can definitely say that I live for moments like these. As with the perfect diamond, their rarity only makes them more precious.
Is it the same way for you? How many Ideas have you had in your life?
Oh… and what Idea have I had? It’s a secret, for now. If all goes well, you’ll see it for yourself one day. Or at least I’ll tell you all about it. The best Ideas are there to be shared. When the time is right, of course.
K J Taylor is the author of the Fallen Moon trilogy: The Dark Griffin, The Griffin’s Flight, The Griffin’s War. She lives in Canberra and is now working on the Risen Sun trilogy, a follow up to the Fallen Moon.