Kage Baker used to say she was always ready to be ambushed. By a story idea, is what she meant – she’d found it was possible (but not easy) to just set out and track one down and pounce on it. But it was a lot simpler to let one drop on you out of the branches of inspiration. So she preferred to lurk around ideas’ known haunts, and look – you know, sort of … careless.
“Like money is just falling out of my decolletage, and I’m wearing too much jewellry,” she would explain. “And I’ve maybe had 1 or 2 too many cocktails and I’m not sure of the way home …”
“And how do we persuade your muse of that?” I would inquire.
“Well, let’s start by going somewhere too far away to walk home, and have 1 or 2 too many cocktails!”
And we would, and we did, and it frequently worked. We’d drive home with Kage’s Muse, leaning over her shoulder from the rear seat, his hand on the back of her neck. And they would disappear into the darkened chambre of her computer screen and strange delights would ensue. Ultimately, Dear Readers, most of you would end up reading the results.
That’s how well it worked.
The last several weeks, I have been mired in that crowded and low-class resort, that Sargasso Sea of desperation, Writer’s Block. It’s a nasty, cold block, too, with half the streetlights burned out and the rest too bright. The motels are never quite full, so there’s always a horrible room available – all 4 walls different disgusting colours, right beside the railroad tracks and the ice machine. It’s an awful place to be.
But a few days ago, I escaped. There was yestreday’s wonderful news from the inestimable Sheila Williams of Asimov’s. And in all my sleeping hours lately, story ideas have been circling and teasing like the harem fish in Fantasia. Today one idea finally leaped out like Errol Flynn down a splitting mainsail, and that’s what I’ve been working on today instead of writing a blog. But it’s not quite midnight, and I can get this in just under the deadline, and feel really pleased with myself!
I’ll probably be working on two stories at once – trading off, so as not to lose time to getting stuck again. A tiny idea that barely started a few months ago has abruptly caught fire, and I am heading now toward 1,000 words for “The Teddy Bear Squad”. That one is a Company story.
I haven’t quite figured out what the other one will be, but I’d like it to be a non-Company tale. Just for variety. We shall see.There’s something about squids that is lurking around. Squids, and tacos.
How’s that for a siren song? Time alone will tell what leaps out of the dark, I guess. For now – I’ll go languish under a lamp post and look … unengaged.