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In the Ghosts of Shadows

18 March 2013


At any one time, I have about 10-15 story ideas kicking around my head. That might sound impressive, but it really isn’t.

The reason: many of these ideas aren’t cooked yet.

I have no idea if it’s like this for other artists (and I have to stretch to lump myself into that group), but with me, ideas need to stew in my brainmeats for a while before I do much with them. Sometimes it only takes the drive home from the office for them to start to come together, but sometimes it can take years.

I can’t really do much with an idea until it’s ready to come out of the oven (yes, I’m about to beat that poor metaphor to death). When I try to write something before the idea is ready — or perhaps before I’m in a place where I’m ready to write it — it comes out half-formed, doughy, and undercooked. It’s like opening the oven halfway through, eating whatever meat you were cooking, and expecting not to get intestinal parasites.

(Just as a side note, I think “expecting not to get intestinal parasites” is something we can all agree is quite a reasonable expectation.)

Ideas needing to marinate in their own juices, then cook to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees is the reason I can be sitting in my office at home, staring at nothing in particular, and still be working. I know from my acquaintance with other writers that this sort of thing does happen from time to time, though I’m not sure how common it is, or if my time spent marinating is excessive.

So what’s the longest you’ve had an idea stew in your mind? Ever get around to doing anything with it?

One Comment leave one →
  1. 18 March 2013 1302

    My third novel was the novel I wanted to be my first. But…I knew I wasn’t ready to write it. So…it knocked around in my head as I wrote two other novels and some screenplays. Then it was ready. I guess that one took 8 or 9 years to get out while I knocked out 3 screenplays and two novels. (And a whole lotta short stories.)

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