Too many ideas..ah..ah..stop them!

Kelly Link continues her blog tour around the paperback release of Pretty Monsters with a post about ideas, where they come from and why we have them. (Kind of.)

(Kelly was our Week One instructor at Clarion ’08. She is a brilliant writer, an evil Mafia player and I can’t think of her without thinking of Micha.)

(Oh…it is also approaching two years since Clarion. Wow. I will write something about this.)

Kelly’s list of things she likes in other peoples fiction (The list starting with theme parks, cults etc etc) is a wondrous idea. I love it, but I also fear it, as I fear all forms of random idea generator. I’m one of those writers who lives with such an unending stream of ideas that it becomes a burden. I can barely start working on one idea before another one comes along. I write brief fragments of them then add them to my big ideas file. I can barely begin work on one idea before another one arrives to distract my minuscule attention span.

(I explained my minuscule attention span to Kelly in our 1-2-1 meeting. She nodded and agreed that yes, that was a problem for a writer.)

Kelly’s story are like amazing cakes. The kind of cake you get when a life long lover of cakes has a long think about all the things they love about cake, and then makes a cake that brings together the best qualities of cakiness from many different recipes in previously undreamt of combinations. Like my favourite of her stories,  The Hortlak, which combines unrequited love, all night convenience stores and (I think) Egyptian mythology. The story is more than the sum of its parts, but the parts are pretty good as well.

So I am going to get over my fear of things that give me even more ideas, and give Kelly’s technique a go. I’ll report back on the results. Maybe.

And in case you have not heard…

There is something wrong with the sun. My my, puts that global recession in perspective, doesn’t it just?

John Gray may be an early precursor of ‘serious’ intellectuals jumping on the SF bandwagon, like teenage girls in the grip of Mieville Mania.


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

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