232. Where Ideas Come From

There’s a mystical place where ideas come from. Hidden in plain sight, like all the great secrets of this world. Like Platform Nine and Three Quarters. Like the closet to Narnia. Like the left turn into backstage.

There’s a magical place where ideas come from. It’s called the world.

Granted, the ideas that awaits may not always be the ideas that you’re looking for. Still, they’re there. Kind of like how the love of your life may not always be the one you were searching for all your life. Still, she’s there.

Trying to find story ideas is like trying to look for love. Most of the time, you’ll end up disappointed. Even when you think you’ve found it, it always ends up kind of disappointing. Well, unless you turn out to be really lucky – I’m happy for you too – but that has always been the case for me. The trouble begins when you have a preconceived notion of that you’re looking for should be like, and that picture is always ideal. The actual subject never turns out to be ideal.

But story ideas, like love, can surprise you by showing up in unexpected places. At a train station. While buying lunch. While taking a walk. While looking at a picture. If you have experienced it before, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t experienced it before, no words can possibly contain the feeling of the moment: excitement and energy and exhilaration all wrapped into one, and in that moment, the world suddenly makes sense. You have caught a glimpse of the future, and it looks bright. You can’t wait to begin. You can’t wait to end. But you also know that to rush through the experience would be to rob you of the little joys along the way. You can’t wait to begin. Your heart pounds and it’s like fireworks going off in your brain.

We get ideas all the time. Just like how we get the chance to fall in love all the time. The difference between storytellers and non-storytellers is that we recognize it.

(I sincerely hope also that you recognize the love of your life when you see him/her)

Half an hour ago. I was scrolling down my facebook news feed when I saw an update from my friend. God knows what was the context of the status update, but it went like this:

Polka dots girl, some of your dots have turned red.

Uh oh, photostat!!

The first line is all that matters. She had unconsciously created poetry, and she hadn’t recognized it. I did. And within the space of 30 minutes, this is what I wrote for The Polka Dot Girl:

Polka dots girl, some of your dots have turned red.
When? How? Why? Have I missed it?
Your dresses are shorter. Or have you grown taller?
What is that powder your wear on your face?
Where did that necklace come from?
Soft toys take the place of old dolls
Words in crayon, brown and blue and pink
Words on your lips, bright and shrill and sweet
I’ve forgotten where I’d left them
Polka dots girl, some of your dots have turned red
They used to be pink
Polka dots girl, your lips have turned red
They used to be pink
When? How? Why?
Why have I missed it?

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