Monday, August 20, 2012

I Have An Idea, Mr. Writer (Writing)

I've heard of writers bugging people about stories they should write, but I never thought I'd be one of them. I think the first was when my brother said I was a writer, and a woman started talking to him about me writing a biography of her.

Since then I've had a couple of people either offer me their ideas, or tell me a more general idea that I should write.

Really, it's like seeing a guy in a straitjacket, in a padded cell, beating his head against the wall and you say to someone, "Hey, that guy doesn't have enough crazy, I think I'll offer him some crazy."

If a writer was short in ideas, they wouldn't be a writer now, would they?

I have so many ideas in my head that they're competing for attention. I can't get 20 pages into a new idea before something else jumps into my head and starts rearranging the mental furniture. I eat and I work and I lay in bed, all the while these ideas are becoming more and more detailed, which really only makes them worse.

Hey that idea sounds like a pretty goo-

As of this very moment I am working on two separate manuscripts, and a massive collaborative-writing project going with at least twelve other people, and I have four other ideas in my head vying for attention. I don't just mean vague ideas either. When I say ideas I mean worlds, characters, plots, scenes, beginnings, endings, dialogue, rules. All of these, for all seven ideas total, are going at the same time.

I don't have room in my head for your ideas.

Even if I did, though, I wouldn't ask for your story.

Don't take it the wrong way, though. I'm not saying because I hate it, quite the contrary, I love hearing about other people's stories, I wouldn't ever ask for it for several reasons. Probably one of the biggest is because I would never make it right. It's your story, you should be the one writing it. You know all the ins and outs of the world and characters and plot. I'm in the dark, stumbling around.

"A blog made us do it!"

That actually makes for a good comparison. Asking someone to write a story for them is like putting them in a dark room in your house that they've never been in before. The light is turned off and you're trying to direct them to the other side of the room because you know it so well. You can't touch them, steer them, or give them a flashlight. All you can do is talk to them. Guess who's going to the hospital?

A writer, no matter how good, can never tell your story for you.

Second, how do writers get started? We certainly don't think to ourselves, "Oh hey, I have this awesome idea, I should tell Benny to write it!" We decide we are going to write it, and we do, and then we all cash it in and jump into our giant swimming pools of money and dance on our solid gold toilets.

You knew I was going to use this picture again.

This all doesn't even take into account money, really. What happens if you do take someone's idea, write it, and it becomes a bestseller? How would that split?

"I wrote it."
"But I came up with it!"
"But I wrote it!"
"But I had the idea for everything!"

I honestly don't know how cowriters even get along without strangling each other.

So maybe, instead of asking your writing friend to consider writing this brilliant idea of yours, try it yourself. There's nothing quite like it, and you may find yourself in a straitjacket while people are telling you their ideas before long, too.

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