I was having some serious fears up till the start of this week. The fearful thought went, “what if I don’t have any new story ideas ever again?”
This fear isn’t totally unfounded. I’d really only had one new story since starting meds, and that was a fever-dream that wouldn’t leave me alone and I ended up writing down so it would get out of my head. (“Evacuation” is now quite different to how it started, and is due for publication in July in the anthology Regeneration).
That’s one story in 2 years. Everything else I’ve been working on are old stories from pre-meds Fran’s brain. The lack of ideas is scary considering I would have a million ideas a year back then (I’m not even sure that’s a hyperbole).
What if medicated Fran couldn’t produce story ideas?
Breathe a sigh of relief: I have a new shiny story! And I think how it came into being highlights some changes that may have caused the lack of story ideas.
I was sick in the weekend. Just a fairly standard cold, with exhaustion and sore throat being the main kicks. In celebration of being allowed to do nothing, I read a book a friend loaned me. I don’t read much anymore; reading got lost off my priority list around the same time Jake was born. I’ve started a lot of books (hehe, that’s an ADHD trait right there for those that don’t know) and I’ve been adding to my ‘to read’ pile, but I think I’ve only finished about a dozen ‘new’ books in the last 3 years. As a book-worm, that’s shocking.
The book I read was something I wouldn’t ordinarily read, but it was so fascinating. The Curse: confronting the last unmentionable taboo: menstruation by Karen Houppert. It’s a culture study (novel sized) on how society treats menstruation, why that is, and why it’s not a healthy way to treat something so normal. The book has a whole section on adolescents, and the psychology of moving from a child to a woman. That’s led to one of the themes of my new story (though I didn’t know that when I started writing).
I was also playing some Civ V, which I get pretty hyper-focused on, and I know that so I avoid it. It was another, ‘I’m sick, I’m going to indulge’ moment. I actually find Civ pretty inspiring. I don’t really know why. It’s a great way to learn what cities need when you’re world building. I just wish that I was able to use the Civ V World Builder, but that’s PC Steam only *pouts*.
Basically, I was sick and indulging in sleeping lots, reading, and playing games, leaving things like housework and mothering to Dale and the TV (turns out neither TV nor Dale are very good at doing dishes. I should get onto that pile).
If you don’t know, I’ve been kind of co-writing a children’s novel with B~ (I say kind of, because she’s done most of the work lately). It’s a fun story with pirate and princesses, aimed at girls. We’re not taking it, or ourselves, too seriously, and having some fun with it. It’s also introduced me to a new audience I’d never really tried to write for. It’s allowed me to realise that not all writing should be serious, or done in seriousness. Now I’m enjoying writing my new shiny for the same age, because it gets to leave out all the teen angst that comes with YA, and allowing myself to just have fun with the story.
Ultimately, all this means, when mini dragons and a girl who collected egg-shaped stones dreaming that one day she’d stumble across a real dragon egg, came into my head, I indulged simply because I was sick. When a bard waltzed into the story I let him stay. When MC wanted to run away from home, I let her. Basically, I’m letting my subconscious direct the story more than I ever have before all in the name of indulging. 2000 words later (in one sitting) I dragged myself to bed with a head full of story. Since then I’ve been working on world building and plot building, because I needed a clear path to follow (needing a path is a new phenomenon too).
It’s coming together really well. I’m amazed. It’s really made me realise something that I already knew on some level: reading is inspiring. And I’ve realised that maybe the ideas were there, but my ego wasn’t letting them develop. If I’d thought how fun it would be to write a story with mini dragons in it while I wasn’t sick and feeling indulgent, my ego would have stepped in and said, “no way. We don’t do dragons” (don’t ask why my ego feels that way. We’re working on clearing a lot of things like that). In fact, I’m fairly sure I’ve often wanted to write such a story.
I feel like I’ve grown a lot in the last week because of all this.
Yay for being sick?