It took me a long time, but I finally realized that good ideas are all around us. You probably run into one every day on your way home from school, or in the middle of your homework. You might even trip on one before bed, because they’re everywhere, just waiting for us to do something with them.
The idea for Fiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell (my first book) came after the longest, most boring car ride in the history of the world. Okay, maybe not the WHOLE world, but it was pretty bad. In the summer of 2010 some friends were visiting from PA. While they were here they wanted to see as much of CA as they could, so one day we piled in the car and set out, ready for a day of sightseeing. Have your parents ever packed you in the car and made you drive around all day, looking at boring stuff? Yeah, it was like that. It didn’t take long before all the kids were over it. Seriously.
Luckily, I was in the back with them, so instead of griping all day, we started telling stories. That’s us in the picture. It’s blurry, and kind of out of focus, but I love it because it’s from that crazy day. By the time we got home we were exhausted—but everyone had a character name, a super power, and even what clothes they wanted their character to wear. And I had the bones of a brand new story.
Even with that great head start, I probably wouldn’t have done anything with the story. I probably would’ve let it slip by, like other ideas I’d had over the years. I was so busy waiting for a BIG IDEA to land in my lap that I couldn’t see how good the idea right in front of me really was. I still thought a good idea had to hit you like a bolt of lightning (or like a singing purple elephant falling from space) to be special. I hadn’t figured out yet that I was what made the idea special. My imagination and hard work were what could make an ordinary idea unique. The same goes for you.
At the end of the week, something special happened. One of the little girls whispered in my ear as she hugged me goodbye. (The hug was special, but what she said made all the difference.) “Will you write our adventure story for us?” Without thinking, I said yes. A few weeks later I got started. Once I did, a funny thing happened. One idea led to another, and that made me think of something else, and before I knew it I’d created an entire book full of adventure, danger, excitement, tons of laughs, and even a little romance. Oh yeah, and a pet ogre, too.
Fiona Thorn was born that day in the car, on that very boring ride. It was also the day I learned to stop waiting for the BIG IDEA (and that purple singing elephant falling from the sky) and to trust the ones all around me.
So take it from me—don’t wait around for a better idea. Take the one you have, the one that nags you during math, or when you brush your teeth, the one you’re most excited about, and run with it. Pour your imagination and hard work into it and make it sing.