One of the perks of being a writer is the freedom to wonder “What if…?” It’s this premise that begins many of my story ideas, long before I even know who my characters are.
That doesn’t mean that all of my ideas are good or that I’ll even use most of them. Some become catalysts for other ideas while a few undergo so many transformations that the original vision is forever lost. The intent is to come up with as many ideas as possible so that I can pick and choose.
My ideas come from various sources. A work of art, an old sepia photo, a line from a song, even an abandoned building can all trigger that same question, “What if…?” It’s like a mystery has been uncovered and I need to solve it. Perhaps I am giving voices to the ghosts therein or a part of my past, long subdued, is rising to the surface of my consciousness.
Granted, “What if?” can sow seeds of regret. I often find myself wondering how much farther along I’d be in my writing career if I’d not listened to the negative harpies who tore at my enthusiasm until I was convinced I could do nothing but fail. (Thanks for nothing. You know who you are.) It’s probably a good thing that my stubborness far outweighs my quavering self-confidence. At least it keeps me from completely giving up.
Which means that: 1) as long as I can keep asking “What if?” and 2) as long as I refuse to give up, there will be plenty of stories forthcoming.