Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Where do you get your ideas from?

I have no idea...well actually now I do but only because Pam mentioned something on our blog a while back that absolutely stuck with me and secondly I was answering questions for an interview today and actually had to think about my 'process'.

Here's what Pam said:

"The thing is, the specifics of my erotic books are made up or taken from things other people made up. But there's a way in which they're the truest books I've ever written, because I had those fantasies and that's the truth. I think the act of giving it literary form was a way of making something tellable that would otherwise be entirely secret and untellable."

And I thought yes that's absolutely how I feel and Pam has put it so eloquently that I don't need to. I know a lot of writers of erotica and erotic romance do actually live lives that bear a striking resemblance to their written work. And then there's me...happily married, mother of four, frumpy soccer mom. And I'm cool with that, usually, although occasionally when I hear tales of other authors' wild lifestyles I wonder whether I'm a big fraud who if she stuck to writing what she knew would write very short books.

Pam reminded me that being a voracious reader and having a deep fantasy life are just as valuable resources in a writers toolbox as being out there living the artistic life. I also realized that my ability to be quiet, to listen and to watch were other skills that helped me write the books I wanted to.

Thank you Pam :)

And now onto the whole 'process' question, which is linked to the above, because I get uncomfortable with the whole idea that I have a 'process' which sounds like something I might have to produce a spreadsheet for or present at a board meeting, or god forbid, a writer's workshop.

For some people having a process obviously works. Sometimes I wish I knew their secret. One of the interview questions asked what came first for me, character, plot, setting etc and it made me think. Luckily for me, I've just started musing about a new book and so for the first time, I'm able to tell you my process.

Although, when I write it down it sounds crazy! What happens is this. I get a sense of a person, usually at a critical emotional moment in his or her life, (for me, usually its the hero.)

In this instance, I got a glimpse of a man, sitting on his bunk, behind bars. He's in a crowded space and yet he is completely alone and apart, all his emotions so finely banked down that no one looking at him would be able to tell how intensely he hates his present situation, how every muscle is quivering from the effort to stop himself from throwing himself at those bars and screaming until he is hoarse. Only I see it because I 'know' him.

Well, I don't really know him -yet-but gradually as I let my subconscious play with the image and his feelings, I'll get to know more and more about what time period he exists in and what is going on around him to have put him in this position. I suppose it's a bit like the small pebble thrown into the silent pond and the ripples radiating out from it. I kind of like that image. By the way, I think his name is Constantin, but I could be wrong.

Does the above count as a process? I'm not sure, but it works for me. As Pam says, it's pure fantasy. I've never been to jail, I have no idea how it would feel to be there but, trust me, I know how Constantin feels.

So you know what I'm going to ask you-Writers, where do you get your ideas from? And if you are a reader, do you like to know how a writer gets his/her ideas and do you feel cheated if he/she hasn't actually done everything in their books?


Celia May Hart said...

Er, they come from everywhere.

Isn't that remarkably helpful. Mostly they come out of non-fiction. I read a tidbit that makes me go "hmmm..." what if?

Kate Pearce said...

Well Celia, you're about as helpful as me :)

Pam Rosenthal said...

I'm so glad you found that post helpful, Kate. Not in knowing where ideas come from, but in giving the fantasy life its due.