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My Writer's Journal

Where Ideas Come From

The question I'm asked most often: "Where do you get your ideas?" My answer is glib: "They're all around me. It's just a matter of recognizing them." And that's true, to a point. But not every idea is a good one, or one I want to commit to for at least a year of hard work. That's the place I'm in now - lots of golden ideas floating around, but when I reach out and catch one it suddenly loses its glitter. I discover that somebody else has already done it, no doubt better than I could do it. Or it's truly a fascinating subject, but not enough people have heard of it, and a book could disappear without a trace.

I'm fascinated by Cixi, empress of China at about the same time Victoria was queen of England. While most people have heard of Queen Victoria, Empress Cixi has hardly any name recognition, unless you happen to be interested in Chinese history. Hatshepsut is another terrific subject. Many know about Cleopatra, but how about an Egyptian queen who lived centuries earlier?

These days I'm reading a lot and thinking a lot, but not writing. One of these days, though, something will click, it will be perfect, I'll be hugely excited, and off and running again.
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