N. Renee Brown

Part-time Author, Full-time Book Junkie

Ideas, like government cheese, are cheap!

“Ideas are cheap!”

Listening to Murr Lafferty say this at Balticon, was like a bomb being dropped in my lap. My initial response was a mix of curiosity and fear, as if wrapping my head around the idea might cause my creative juices to explode. It would have been very easy to dismiss this most dangerous statement out of hand. It would have been simple to just get up and walk away muttering about podcasters trying to write novels…but I’m not a “naysayer” by nature, so instead of scoffing I listened and she rewarded me by expounding.

“Ideas”, she said, “are the easiest part of writing.”

The EASIEST part!?!?!?! Thinking back on my plot struggles I was inclined to disagree. My hours of struggling to put the right characters in the right places to make everything work out as I had planned haunted me. The delete key nearly worn slick on my new computer from the struggles with the prose I was creating beat down from my memory. Then again she didn’t say PLOT or CHARACTER or PROSE now did she? She said ideas…the nugget upon which the plot is steadied.

Thinking about this further, I began to examine my thoughts and feelings about story ideas. I knew I had a whole file folder full of ideas, little 100 word descriptions that could (if every given the chance) develop into an event upon which a plot could be built. I knew that every month when my writing group announced it’s latest challenge I could USUALLY walk out of the meeting with an idea of what I was planning to write. I knew that ideas were everywhere. Ideas could spring from anything from that penny on the ground in front of me (Where did it come from? Is it unlucky? Who would be looking for it? What would happen if I picked it up?) to the trip to Hawaii I am planning (What happens if I decide to stay? What would a hurricane be like? What if I am kidnapped? What if I get lost at sea?). Ideas are not the gold that fill the coffers of kings…ideas are the lead that we as alchemists must turn to gold.

The real expense of writing is not the idea, no those are a dime a dozen in any open-air market, it is what we do with those ideas. It is the hard work of putting pen to paper and spinning a tale that is worth reading. It is the sweat of reviewing your own work to make it perfect. It is the investment of time and energy editing, reading and critiquing others work to get a better handle on your own.

So, remember ideas are cheap…it’s the making a dream a reality that is priceless.

Find your peace and live it…even if it is full of lead!


    One comment so far | Leave your own comment

  1. 7/15/2008 | 10:58 pm Permalink

    Glad to see someone else write on this ever since I heard Lafferty say something similar on “I Should Be Writing”. Needless to say that ideas (not just in writing, but in any other creative endeavor) ARE the easy part – it’s making them into something more interesting/enduring that creates all the hair pulling 😛

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