Sunday Coffee – Writer-Brain

IMG_0393I doubt there are many people reading this blog that don’t already know that I write fiction, but just in case: I write fiction! I’ve been writing fiction since I was old enough to hold a pencil, focusing on short stories until I moved to novels about nine years ago. Often, people will ask me how I come up with the ideas for my books. My standard answer is that I find inspiration from dreams and misheard song lyrics. That’s true, but only in the narrowest sense. Writer-brain isn’t necessarily linear.

Take, for example, a thing that happened to me yesterday. I haven’t been writing much this year. I’ve been working steadily (but very slowly) on a second draft of a novel all year, and I’m only about ten chapters into it. Studying and family-stuff have taken priority this year. Consequently, I have a lot of fiction currently in my brain. There are three manuscripts that I would love to get second drafts written for at present time. Trying to choose which of those three to work on this year was agonizing. I was not in any way looking for something new to work on. Yet.

But then yesterday, I walked to the library with Jason and the boys. I had a few audiobooks on hold to pick up, and after I checked them out, I sat in the common area on the second floor where we always meet once the boys grab their 10,000 weekly mangas. I looked off to the rows of books, and saw a title of a YA book I’d never heard of before: Isla and the Happily Ever After. Actually, “Isla” was the only word I could read from where I sat, and it immediately brought to mind Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita” that I listened to in my childhood. And that’s where writer-brain kicked in.

All of a sudden, I had a fully-formed general outline for a novel that could either be a YA allegorical fantasy or an adult literary magical realism book, depending on the characters and the fleshing out of said outline. I opened my iPhone (yay for technology!) and jotted down a brief bullet-point list of the plot-arc. My expectation at that point was to transfer the notes to my writing notebook when I got home, and let the story develop at some later date, when I didn’t currently have three manuscripts I was trying to get to.

Um, no. All of a sudden, the characters from the new novel came to life, one by one. I began to see them and learn their roles in the story, their lives before the story. As we left the library, Jason asked me if I was okay, because I was just staring off into space, not seeing the world around me. Yes, I was okay. I was writing. And I “wrote” all the way home. For half an hour, I dragged a cart of books behind me, eyes glazed, not seeing or hearing a thing except what was in my head. By the time I got home, I had four characters mostly developed, with names and backstories and entry-points into the novel. I wrote out their notes at home…and continued to learn more about them as I wrote…and now I have another novel that is largely fleshed out and screaming at me to begin work on…

Writer-brain. Lovely even when inconvenient. Sigh.

So now I have four books I want to be working on. I won’t be abandoning my current manuscript, but I also won’t stop developing the notes for this one. If I’m lucky diligent, I’ll finish the current draft and develop this new story completely before November, when I can use NaNoWriMo to write my first sloppy-quick-draft of the new book, to help me fully develop story/characters before writing a much-better second draft at a later date.

Does this help explain how writer-brain works? Um, no. I think instead, it simply illustrates how difficult it would be to really answer the question of “where do you come up with your ideas?” I don’t know where. They just come, and turn me into a zombie for a bit as my brain takes the spark of inspiration and turns it into something usable. The end.

About Amanda

Writing. Family. Books. Crochet. Fitness. Fashion. Fun. Not necessarily in that order. Note: agender (she/her).
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Sunday Coffee – Writer-Brain

  1. Shaina says:

    Inconvenient at times, perhaps, but what a treat to have such an active and imaginative brain! I can’t wait to hear more about this story. 🙂

    Have you ever written about your other novels here? I know you’ve mentioned before that you’ve gotten (and plan to get) tattoos for your manuscripts, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen you discuss the plots/characters.


  2. Trisha says:

    I get ideas every once in awhile, but I’ve never felt the urge to actually write. The commitment scares me honestly.


  3. gricel says:

    I know exactly what you mean. I have a journal full of story scraps waiting to be written as soon as I finish the current project… but which to choose?!!?


Leave a Reply to Amanda Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.