The Idea Fairy

I was very happy to have a visit last week from the Idea Fairy. She stopped in – as she often does – just when I was on the verge of sleep. She whispered two sentences in my ear, and my eyes flew open. I knew who was responsible for them and liked their potential a lot. I debated the merit of getting out of bed to write them down, but decided instead to be lazy and repeat them in my mind as many times as possible until I feel asleep. In the morning, I remembered them perfectly. I also put a notepad on the nightstand. If the Idea Fairy is going to be stopping by, I want to be ready.

There are many kinds of story ideas, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they turn up in many different ways. Some evolve over time, as the result of rumination or research. Some are sparked by something else, as in “that movie/book/whatever would have been more interesting if…”. And yet others pop into the imagination, wholly formed. I think that cohesiveness is what makes this last group of ideas so interesting—and the fact that they just appear makes them very welcome. I call these gifts from the Idea Fairy. There’s still work to be done, of course – structuring the story and fleshing it out, never mind the messy business of writing it down – but I’m always excited when the Idea Fairy stops by.

The Idea Fairy is fickle. She is capricious. She is easily distracted. I suspect that when she’s absent, it’s because she’s found a more sparkly place to play. I doubt that she stops casting ideas into the universe. Maybe she has to spread herself thin, to visit all the creative souls in the universe in succession. Sometimes her ideas don’t come fully to fruition, although that might be more a function of human frailty than any inherent weakness.

I have been hoping for a visit from the Idea Fairy for a while. I’ve been leaving out shiny things in my office, the kinds of things she likes. Sentences and phrases, snippets of thoughts and tantalizing hints of conflicts. I’ve been writing longhand and taking courses (both favourite choices of the Idea Fairy) hoping to lure her out of hiding. Why? Well, I have two long-running series that will be completed next year (don’t worry – even the Idea Fairy doesn’t get to jump the queue!) and I’ve been wondering what I’ll write next. Finishing up linked series is a great thing, but I’m used to thinking several years in advance. And until she stopped by – just a fleeting brush of those wings and a whisper in my thoughts – I wasn’t sure what my next project would be.

Now I know. 🙂 So, now it’s down to the mucky business of making the notion left by the Idea Fairy into books. Yes, it’s another linked series, and I’m pretty excited about it. First there’s Thorolf’s book, then the next two medievals, then Sloane’s book. Only THEN will the new glimmer from the Idea Fairy get its due.

It’s perfect timing on her part (and I expect she must have been busy last week) as it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWrMo) this month. This is the month when writers everywhere settle in to write more than usual. Maybe I’ll even be able to steal a few minutes here and there to toy with that new idea. 🙂

Do you believe in the Idea Fairy? Where do you think ideas come from?