History of an Idea

By Heidi Herman

There is nothing new under the sun. Whether you recognize this as a biblical reference or an idiom, the meaning still holds true. Everything that happens has happened before in some fashion. Every idea has its origin from something else. We often call it inspiration or muse and, as writers, we actively seek it. When the “IDEA” comes to you, you must let it flow. You may tap away on the keyboard or scratch it out furiously on a convenient napkin or scrap of paper, but it must be immortalized before it evaporates.

Stephen King is quoted as saying, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

I believe him. So many ideas have come to me when reading, or remembering something I read. For instance, I once read that math is the universal language. As someone who has truly pitiful math skills, I find this concept terrifying. Wouldn’t it be awesome if the universal language were color? What if a rainbow is actually a message from another civilization? What if the bullet in Dallas had made JFK a widower? What if all reality TV is made up and Sci-Fi is real? Is it really true that you can survive the venom from a snakebite as long as it doesn’t flood into your heart all at once?

It starts with a though or question, even an odd word you come across in a magazine article or one of those Word A Day calendars. You may begin to argue with yourself, supporting both sides of a question, or a cast of characters develops around an idea and they start having conversations in your head. That random thought or question has formed into an Idea. What if every day you had a new idea? Would you ever be able to finish a full novel?


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