Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Clueless. Seriously, clueless.

Two questions were put to me today, one to be answered on the blog here, the other to be answered on the 'write your novel' site (which is expanding exponentially, and should definitely be up in August). Both questions are thoughtful, both are welcome ... and one of them is the kind of question that makes writers go blank.

Where, she asked, do you get your plot ideas? And the truth is, most of the time I have no bloody idea where they come from. They're just kind of ... there. One moment they're not, and the next -- wham. There they are, jabbering at you, whining like a bunch of juvenile galahs demanding to be fed, "Write me, write me!" Nine out of ten ideas don't even get written down, much less slotted into a new story. The tenth will be good enough that I'll make notes; and maybe ten percent of those will find its way into a book. All very well, Keegan, but --

Where do they come from?! I think the stork brings them when you're not looking, leaves them on the doorstep along under the home direct marketing catalogs, and they sneak in when you open the door to let the cat in.

So, thoroughly blank, I had to look at my fallback plan: where do I get ideas when I'm uninspired, yawning into the keyboard, subsisting on coffee, riding the thin edge of a deadline, and would rather be sitting in a nice, comfy chair at the dentist's office while Doctor Nick (that really is his name; I should think he gets hell) pokes about with rakes and shovels and his sadistic assistant drags in the jackhammer and hooks it up to a handy compressor --

Idea. Plot ideas. Right. So I screwed up my courage and told the truth.

I grow them in the back of the pantry, behind the big bags of flour and spuds.

No, actually I contributed some useful paragraphs. At least, I hope they were useful.

The second question is far easier to answer. Is the Tarot reading in NOCTURNE (he asked) genuine; and if so, do I read Tarot cards?

Yes; and ... depends what you mean by 'do I.' Can I read them? Yes. I had to learn how to 'tell' them to write that section of NOCTURNE ... it's odd, the things you learn when researching for novels. Do I make a general practise of reading them? No. Not because I'm inclined to pooh-pooh them, either. The fact is, they are creepily correct in an incredible majority of cases. Don't ask me how or why. Superstition is the last thing you could accuse me of, but I was born with a mind so open, the wind blew through my skull unimpeded till I was six. (Then someone had the bright idea of stuffing cotton wool into my ears, and the roaring sound turned off.) That open mind is what made me literally put the Tarot to the test; and no, it won't pick the winners of horse races for you. But it will very, very often give you an unambiguous 'yea' or 'nay' about how important things and goint to turn out in the next couple of weeks. Often enough to be weird. Correct enough to be bloody damned creepy. And here's the rub: if you knew the answer to what you wanted was 'no,' you'd never get off your bum and do anything, would you? And the anwser is usually 'no.' So, here's the bottom line: leave the cards in the box, take your best shot and get on with your life. And I have absolutely no idea how, or why, they come up with accurate answers in a vast majority of cases --

But there's enough of a scientist hiding, latent, inside me, to report the data abrolutely without bias: make of it what you will. Me? I put the cards back in the box, put the box in the cupboard, and closed the door. 'Tis better to have loved and been slapped in the face than to have stayed home watching the tube.

Damnit, thought, I wish you could use them for picking winners in horse races. Or dog races, come to that. And I wouldn't mind winning the Gordo, either.

Here's news which astonished me: the ebooks are currently selling at 2:1 over the papebacks! It's jaw-hits-floor time here. I've been resistant to the chore of getting the books 'up there' as ebooks for a long time, because I honestly didn't have too much real faith in them. Turns out, they're doing very well. Time for Keegan to eat a few aforementioned words!

Look out for a newsletter from DreamCraft tomorrow. Some new screensavers are on their way online right now. They're done with new software that makes high-quality SCR files with small file sizes. I'm impressed. (Mind you, for fifty bucks, the software wants to be good. The screensavers themselves are free ... enjoy!)

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