Saturday, July 24, 2010

You Can Take the Writer Out of the Story...

One of the most frequent questions I get is: Where do you come up with story ideas?

It's a difficult question to answer because I don't find the ideas - they find me. I've never had the experience of thinking "what should I write about" - ideas sneak up on me and once they grab hold, they don't let go. My life as writer reflects the way I move through the world, which is that I'm never quite fully here. Part of me is always looking around, watching, waiting, knowing the next idea will soon strike.

While this way of being is fantastic for my writerly self, it makes life difficult for those closest to me.You know how some people are really charismatic? Great listeners, the people that make you feel like you're the only other person in the world?

I will never be one of those people because I'm never fully present in a moment. It's both a strength and a flaw. The good of this is that I see the world in layers of possibility, the bad is that I can be distant and spacey with friends and family.

Case in point: about a month ago I was at a wedding of close family friends. The wedding took place at the Minnesota Arboretum. It was wonderful and beautiful.And I was totally fixated by this:
To run-of-the-mill Arboretum guests this structure was what it was toted as. A living sculpture.

For me? Pagan sacrificial hut. (Wicker Man, anyone?)I couldn't stop talking about it. I went from being totally freaked out by it, to fascinated, to demanding pictures.
This is a typical example of what life with Andrea is like. I can't have a conversation, or go on a trip without the world of story bleeding into the life I'm leading. In a way I'm always living with a foot in this world and a foot in the writing world.

So if I seem distracted, just keep this in mind: it's not you, it's me.


  1. I totally know what you mean! Maybe it's the way a writer's brain works, the not quite being fully there... It frustrates my family too. But it opens the doors of possibility!

  2. You are SO not alone with this. Sometimes when I'm with my family and we are driving to some place, everyone will be talking and I'll be silent. Everyone in the car will ask if I'm okay at least once. 99% of the time I'm fine, I'm just writing in my head and I certainly can't do that and be engaged in conversation or actively listening. I worry how I'll be when I get married. I can only hope that I find a husband who understands my need for silence, my zoning out, and my blank stares-lol.

  3. I've lived in my head so long it is its own kingdom.
    Love this post and the photos. That is one eerie hut. Can't wait to read what story you weave from it.