You may wonder why I identify as a writer. Or you don’t because you have better to things to consider in your life. But if the question did strike you, or it has now that I brought it up, the answer is clear:
Spoken words are not my forte.
Let’s say I write a paragraph like this: He strode through the infirmary, scanning every shelf for his next victim. With cold hands and a cruel heart, he selected a brown rodent from its cage. The rat squirmed in his grasp, squeaking in terror, but the scientist could not heed it over the fantasies of triumph chorusing through his mind. They will see I am right, he thinks as he drops the creature into the glass cube and secures the door. He turns the dial next to the cage and flips a switch. Green vapor fills the cube as the rat scrabbles at the glass. The scientist smiles, the green fog reflecting in his eyes. “It does work.”
Later that day, someone asks me. “How’s your story going? What did you write today?”
“Well, so… there was a scientist guy who tested out a thing… and there was a rat. I think the rat died.”
I’m so suave.
Some people expect writers to be eloquent speakers but in truth, we use slang as much as anyone else. I use ‘thing’ as a fill-in-the-blank noun and verb. Sometimes my speech consists of gibberish words and violent hand gestures, and yet people seem to understand. Kudos to them.
With all of this in mind, I will attempt to answer a question I receive a lot:
“Where do you get your ideas?”
My usual, spoken answer is: “I dunno. It just… (gestures to head) and then (explosion sound with mouth) and then I think it’s a thing (claps hands) so… yeah (exaggerated shrug.)”
However, I am now sitting by a computer, communicating through written words. I’m on my turf now, so I hope I can explain myself more clearly.
For those of you who imagine me as a robotic being who writes recipes all day… you are not wrong. Although, I am also a writer of fiction.
The first thing you must know about ideas is that they are the most inconvenient things in the intangible realm. I can be taking a shower, walking to a meeting, trying to fall asleep, studying, spacing out, and BOOM! A wild idea appears! Where does it come from? It’s hard to say, but here’s a short list of my resources:
- Dreams. My dreams are often in adventure story mode, or horror, depending on the night, and once I reflect on them, they often offer interesting material.
- The words: “What if?” So many of my ideas have come this way. What if cell phones controlled our minds? What if the ozone layer got destroyed? What if society’s expectations were dictated by introverts instead of extroverts? What if fire can talk?
- Life in general. I was sitting in history class in high school and I decided I wanted to write a story that took place during the Spanish Inquisition. I read a motivational quote and pieced together a tale that would force someone to say such a thing. I heard the shrill scream of a subway in its tracks and wondered if it would drown out the sound of a gunshot…
Alright, that last one got dark; I hope I haven’t scared you, especially if you are reading this from a subway stop… enjoy the ride!
In honesty, ideas are hard to explain. It’s like trying to describe the surge of joy you feel when you accomplish something big, or the rage when someone has wronged you. It’s intangible. You know it’s there because you feel it, but you can’t instruct a person to do the same.
You can’t force yourself to have ideas. They just come, like a burst of stars during the day when they are unexpected but still welcome. I have notebooks full of ideas to write, scribbled after a daze of staring into space while my mind goes haywire.
This is why writers become upset when someone tells them: “I have the BEST idea for a book! You write it and we’ll split the profit.” We have our own ideas, lots of them, and we don’t feel like doing all the work for a person too lazy to do it himself.
Ideas and fiction go hand in hand, like peanut butter and jelly, no… peanut butter and chocolate, a more heavenly combination. The following recipe is simple, perfect for beginners, and so decadent. Unlike most brownie recipes, this one has no flour, no oil, and no refined sugar. It’s a brownie with benefits! Isn’t that a fantastic idea?
Flourless Peanut Butter Brownies
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter + 2 tbsp separate
- 1/4 cup honey + 2 tbsp separate
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 egg
- (Optional:) tbsp of mini chocolate chips for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix the egg, peanut butter, honey, and applesauce together; then incorporate the rest of the ingredients until well-combined.
- Pour the batter into a greased 9×9 pan.
- Separately, stir 2 tbsp of peanut butter with 2 tbsp of honey.
- Drop the filling by the spoonful into the batter and swirl with a knife.
- If desired, sprinkle the mini chocolate chips over the brownie.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Let cool, and serve warm or chilled.