Where do babies come from?
by Jessa Slade on December 15th, 2008

Currently working on: Cover copy for SEDUCED
BY SHADOWS — Look, ma! It’s a book!
Mood: Obsessively perfectionist

Where do ideas come from?  If authors sometimes refer to their books as their children, for me, the answer to where ideas come from is as simple and boring as the 20-page picture book I read that was supposed to answer the perennial childhood question, Where do babies come from?  All I remember was the sentence: “The egg is no bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.”  And it wasn’t really a large font size.

Scientifically unverified reasons it’s likely my “ideas” are actually just eggs:

  • It seems they come from somewhere inside me
  • They start out small and unformed and more than a little alien-like
  • I break a lot of them in the course of half-baking them
  • My job is to hatch them, raise them up and let them fly

Now that I review my list, my ideas are really less like children and more like chickens.  Have you ever watched chickens?  They’ll wander, clucking to themselves, rather aimless.  Then all of a sudden, they’ll freak and scramble with sudden (if often obscure) purpose.  My ideas work like that too.  And come to think of it, my handwriting bears a striking resemblance to their footprints…

The chicken as Muse.  Sigh.  But you take inspiration where you can find it.

[If you're still looking for the perfect Christmas gift, you could do worse than a Mike the Headless Chicken t-shirt.  I'm just saying.]

Could I wish for a more noble, more coherent symbolic source of ideas than a headless chicken?  No doubt.  But if babies come from cabbage patches and storks — not to mention the periods at the ends of sentences — why not ideas from chickens?

Who — or what — does your muse look like?

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11 comments to “Where do babies come from?”

  1. 1

    Ewwwww …

    Poor little chicken.

    My muse is music and sleep. For some reason characters think it is a brilliant idea to start doing stuff and chatting while I’m trying to catch some zzzzzs.

    In fact, my hero the other night said, “I don’t give my opinion often but I know two things …”

    Sadly, I didn’t get up and write those two things down and can now only remember one of them. Perhaps he’ll remind me of it later! Please?!

  2. 2

    My muse only really likes to visit me when I’m away from the keyboard. For instance, in the shower (must be something about how the hot water relaxes me) or while bike riding or walking. Whenever I’m stuck while writing, the best thing I can do is get up and do something else for a few minutes. It’s like the knots in my brain unravel and the ideas flow again.

  3. 3

    My muse is stubborn and likes to play hide and seek with me.

  4. 4

    Ah, the Muse… Brilliant topic. So what face does my Muse wear? Likely it’s the face of Sybil, complete with the multiple personalities. Just kidding… Sort of.

    The wellspring of my creativity seems to be tended by four very distinct and different entities. One wears the seductive guise of Titian’s Venus of Urbino. She’s sensual and hedonistic, full of passion and seductive grace. All things sexual flow from her. Another wears the face and form of an archangel. He offers hope and light, comfort and faith. He seems to whisper that good always eventually triumphs and there is positive in even the darkest of souls. He is my pathfinder and my lightbearer. Yet another takes the hideous form of a demon in the night. He is the bringer of nightmares and chaos. He leads me to darkness and horrors beyond description. But it’s the fourth muse that inspires me above all. Curiosity. I suppose if I had to give it a face, it would take the form of a cat. Given my natural inclination towards horror (a much overlooked and dying genre), it would have to be a black cat.

    All my ideas start off as tiny seeds scattered across the wasteland of my imagination. Some never sprout. Others blossom with grace. But it’s the thorny vines and the stinging nettles that I cultivate. Curiosity is as much an inspiration as it is a tool during that process. A single idea with a million possibilities often yields amazing results on several planes just by playing “what-if” and following where my curiosity leads.

  5. 5

    Headless chickens I understand. It’s the headless turkeys that seem to come and visit me …

  6. 6

    My muse always hits me when I am trying to sleep. Not a good time.

  7. 7

    Heather, in addition to the stinging nettles, I’m also overrun with the morning glory vine in my idea garden: it has those beautiful white flowers so I’m hesitant to pull it out… but when I try to work with it, the flowers fade before I get anywhere and meanwhile the vine has wended its way through everything. Then I have to employ the weedwacker of my delete key to ugly effect.

  8. 8

    Jessa… Beware those morning glories! They can be beautiful, but they are invasive and fleeting. Good metaphor!

    It’s a more fitting metaphor for danger than most know. Few people are aware of the “other” property that vine possesses. (Warning! Educational fun fact dead ahead!) It’s highly hallucinogenic and deadly. If you’ve ingested enough to feel a high, you can kiss your butt goodbye. There is no antidote. That one made my top 100 list of interesting ways to kill off a disposable minor character. You can imagine the reaction I got from the gentleman at the Extension Office at the local university when I called looking for information on local flora that could be used to poison people. *chuckles* And they say research is boring. Hah!

  9. 9

    Quilt Lady, I’m like you — a lot of times my muse visits at night, as I’m dozing off. I’ll have a fantastic idea and I’ll be just POSITIVE I’ll remember it in the morning (because I’m too lazy to get up and write it down), and then … it’s gone.

  10. 10

    ideas – spark of interest/insight
    muse – ponder, deep thoughts
    chicken – brainless poultry
    babies – spit and poop

    Only writers would consider these topics as interchangeable and connected.

  11. 11

    I agree with Quilt Lady and Kim – I often get ideas and loose them during sleep! I have taken to keeping pen and paper by the bed in case I MUST catch that idea. Also I seem to get ideas while I’m showering!! Those I try to dictate as soon as I get out – I keep a recorder handy. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten further than lots of notes on different papers and notebooks and plots, characters and dialogue on several cassette tapes!

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