“Where do you get your ideas?” is a common question asked of writers, especially fiction writers. Have I written about this before? Ehh, probably doesn’t matter, because I get them from various and sundry places.
If left to my own devices, I tend to write about women who don’t quite fit in. Sometimes it’s an entire society of women who don’t fit in with the surrounding cultures (Atlans, Tay of Tunad). At other times, it’s one woman who doesn’t fit in with those around her (Mac, Cali, Kandaranna, Tay of Tunad). They manage to make a place for themselves without losing themselves in the process.
I’ve been writing these types of stories since at least the fourth grade. Probably because I was always a shy introvert of a kid who didn’t feel like she fit in. It didn’t help that my family moved around quite a bit, always looking for grass that was a little greener. Our shortest stint in one place was 6 weeks in Brush CO when I was in the 2nd grade, followed by our longest stint, 8 years in Limon CO (except for 3 months when we tried out Cheyenne WY). You’d think after 8 years, I would have felt accepted, but... not entirely.
The other interesting fact I’ve noticed about my stories about these women is that they are rarely written from that woman’s point of view. There are various reasons I’ve given myself for this curiosity, but I’m beginning to think that, deep down inside, I realize that if the reader gets to see this character from inside her own head, it would be easier to identify with the character, and that kind of negates the ‘don’t fit in’ aspect.
Other of my stories have different sources. Maybe I read a story by somebody else, and I decide it would have been more interesting to change the characters a bit, modify the location, twist the plot... An interesting dream that I half remember might inspire me, although by the time I get something on paper, it will bear little or no resemblance to that dream. A call for anthology submissions can be interesting to consider. In that case, I take the bare bones of what they are looking for and try to twist it around and push it out of shape to come up with something other writers won’t come up with.
There are lots of places my stories come from. I just have to pause and let them come.