Where do story ideas come from? I get that question sometimes, and it has never been an easy question to answer. Or maybe the answer has always been right there in front of me, but I've taken it for granted. Yes, because the truth is I never stop thinking about storytelling. I never stop with the ideas. I've been living inside my head since the day I picked up my first book.
It doesn't mean I'm the best at storytelling. Far from it. But at some point in my life writing became a coping mechanism for me, a way to deal with life and the people in it. Therefore, I think about it as much as possible. Constantly.
And why not? It helps me put order to things. Allows me to comprehend and see ahead. To know the answers before the questions ever come. It gives my life meaning. Adds value. Fills me with a sense of self worth. Writing satiates my yearning for discovery, endless possibilities, and the exploration of the mind and soul. It keeps me young like that.
That's the complicated answer, I suppose. An answer that still doesn't explain much for all it's extrapolation and aspiration.
The simple answer is this.
Family Christmas Party, Saturday, December 17, 2016. I was sick in the eyes. Pink eye. And let me tell you, pink eye is not pink and fluffy. More like, pink and burning. Hellishly hot. A real pain in the face. Not the worst thing in the world, but to someone who looks at their computer monitor 12 hours a day, brutal. Yet, I endured the week with it and was just fighting off the tail end when we set out with our crock pots full of chili and our bottles of wine to my Uncle Joe's for the family get together.
Soon after we arrived, my uncle switched the TV from Pandora Christmas music to the Kentucky basketball game where my entire family, mostly blue blood Kentucky fans, hooted and hollered the team to victory.
I was feeling great about the win, but more miserable about the eyes. It was hard to keep a conversation going. Hard to really drink and be merry with all the itching and burning. My tear ducts were raw from all the rubbing I'd been doing, and the tops of my cheeks burned from the cold compresses.
I did my best to hang in there. Everyone understood. It had been a rough week for both me and Michele, since she'd been in a big car crash earlier in the week and was lucky to be alive. Yes, I was thankful. But, when you're sick you're sick, and it's hard to be all Ho Ho Ho.
The party dwindled. A few people said their good byes and shuffled off until the next family event. The hard core party people gathered in the dining room talking and drinking wine, munching on Christmas cookies and nuts and leftovers. I slunk off to the recliner to shut my eyes. I felt miserable. There was 70's rock on the big stereo. Old wolfish speakers with real sub woofers and tweeters gently vibrating the hardwood floor. I settled in, raising the foot rest and leaning back, trying not to scar the wall. I used Michele's ugly Christmas sweater to cover up and then waited for the ache in my head to recede.
I willingly let go of trying to be part of the gathering and simply listened. Benny and the Jets rolled over me as people laughed quietly and drank, settling into more serious talk about family matters and recent events. I heard the voices of the people I loved carrying on without me, and I smiled. It was nice. I imagined it was what they meant when they said it was important to have family and friends around when you're on your death bed.
Of course, I was hardly dying, but you know what I'm saying.
My mind drifted. Benny and the Jets played. Several narratives about the characters in my worlds grew spinning in my head. The song, written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin in the 70's, represented a group of misfit musicians full of glitz and glam. Wouldn't it be great if Elsa or Ingrid (from Galefire) hooked up with them? Talk about taking it to a Lestat-like level. I could see it, totally.
Then David Bowie and Freddy Mercury sang Under Pressure to me. I imagined they were putting on a concert just for me in my head. I wondered if that's how Lonnie (from Galefire) felt while trying to sort through all the clashing memories in his head in Galefire I. That inspired me to imagine future scenes for future books. How would Lonnie handle losing someone close to him? How would he handle power? Would he become greedy and corrupt, or remain true to himself?
Pretty soon I forgot about the heat behind my eyes and relaxed in a state of imaginative bliss. That's just how I roll. That's how I live inside my head, as they say. At the DMV. At the grocery store. At a party making myself small and unobtrusive.
Closing your eyes, shutting up, and actually listening. That's where ideas come from. At least mine do. I guess the real point is to take inspiration where you find it, and always be looking and listening. Writing isn't something you do for an hour or two a day. Writing is an every day, all-hours sort of thing.
That's why my Patreon page is so important to me. It allows me to experiment and run concepts past my supporters. It allows me to connect with them and explore the world of authorship more than I ever thought possible.
If you're interested to know how I'm doing on Patreon, click here (Kenny on Patreon).