Saturday, 26 April 2014

Trying Too Hard

I was on a school visit the other day, when a pupil asked me if I ever worry about running out of ideas.

"No!" was my response. "In fact, I have too many ideas and not enough time."

This is true but only to a certain extent. 

I remember watching a scene from Great Expectations. Miss Havisham has brought Pip to her crumbling mansion and sat him down in front of Estella and demands that they play. The scene always makes me cringe because it's obvious that play is pretty spontaneous and demanding someone play is a bit like forcing a laugh.


Ideas are a bit like that for me. They arrive all sparkly and exciting: a setting, a dilemma, a character but they aren't enough on their own and I spend a lot of time weaving ideas together, only to see them fall apart. It's a bit like knitting spaghetti. I'm trying too hard.

Another (better) analogy is Candy Gourlay's here: She describes each idea as a rabbit hole that she is staring at. She'll dive down one and explore it until she no longer wants to and then comes out and dives into another one. When she finds a rabbit hole she likes, she'll excavate it until it becomes a book. I think the 'trying too hard' here comes when you carry on excavating even though you've lost interest

I find the best ideas are the ones that don't go away. they keep speaking to you and developing and they lead to other ideas. I've got one of those nagging me now. I think I'll go and explore it...

How do you decide which story to plump for?