How I Get My Ideas

Howdy, everyone:

Oftentimes I receive from readers wonderful suggestions concerning what I might consider writing about next. I know many writers who do work this way: they hear of a topic, or spy one in a newspaper headline, and run with it. I have always envied those writers. It seems such an efficient way to get material.

The way my stories and books are born is: I take a subject of extreme emotional interest to ME and plug it into a different context, thereby changing it somewhat–yet hopefully projecting it onto the wall of readers’ imaginations so everyone can feel what I’m feeling, too. That prism–refracting emotional light from me to you through the lens of make-believe–is called fiction.

Photo courtesy of Jim Reed.

I’m deeply grateful to have a chance to do this for my living and with my life. It’s not always easy trying to find the right context for the emotional situation. But once I find it, and once readers write to me to tell me what I wrote moved them–well, that to me is more than worthwhile. That’s evidence of grace.

This is also why I feel writing to sell, to pander to popular taste, just to make money, is a sucker’s game.

I wrote more about why this is in my latest Friday Five-0 advice column for Grub Street Writers.  Here’s the column. Enjoy.

Happy reading–and writing!




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