Catching Lightning

As the title of this post suggests, there’s an element of magic behind writing. Tell someone you’re a writer and they inevitably ask, “Where do you get your ideas?” After, “What do you do for a living, then?” and “Why?”, of course. And this is both a wonderful question and the worst question you could possibly ask a writer.

The short answer? We have no freaking clue.

But that’s not much of an answer at all, is it? More a cop-out, so we can get back to doing what we do best: putting wild ideas on paper and calling them “art.”

For me, ideas beget ideas. And they really are magic, at least in part.

My first novel, Morning Blood in Mio, is full of farfetched ideas and silly, borderline ridiculous jokes. Okay, absolutely ridiculous jokes. I mean, the main premise is the Devil and Death get married, take their honeymoon in a small town in Michigan, and bring about the apocalypse. The kicker? Only a clumsy, obese “detective” can do anything about it.

Morning Blood in Mio was definitely like catching lightning. I stuck my hand out the window while driving up M-33 and caught what has evolved from a gentle tingle to a full-body shock. During my final rounds of edits with my publisher, I reread some of the jokes, relived scenes I’d all but forgotten about, and surprised even myself. There was magic, no denying. I caught it, threw it on paper, and released it to the world. The story started with a shrine and evolved into a storm.

One shouldn’t be able to catch lightning. There should be a bit of smoldering flesh, mild to severe hemorrhaging, and maybe even full cardiac arrest. Come to think of it, catching lightning is EXACTLY like writing stories. Less harmful to the human body, perhaps, but the similarities are uncanny.

Lightning is fast. Lightning is sporadic. It’s beautiful to look at and potentially deadly when you get too close. Fiction writing, especially fantasy fiction, is all of the above. Ideas strike when you least expect them, leaving as quickly as they came, and sometimes they’re awe-inspiring. Other times they’re just awful. But that’s okay. They’ll strike again. All you can do is try to catch the right ones.

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