All sorts of things can provide ideas for a story. Most of mine come from things I’ve read—fiction, nonfiction, news articles…. I make a note of those I find especially promising, normally just a few sentences, never more than a page. Sometimes it’s just a setting and maybe a few thoughts about a main character or a broad concept for a plot. I think of these as seeds that might, with some concerted cultivation, grow into pretty good stories.
I imagine a lot of aspiring writers do this. After a bit of weeding and hybridization, I currently have thirty-five story seeds left in my collection. This does not include a Warden’s World novel I shelved after drafting six chapters a couple of years ago (and still may get back to) or a series of short stories (of which I’ve completed three). I still don’t know which, if any of these, I will focus on for my next big project.
So the bottom line is, for the first time in five years, I’m not actively drafting a new novel. I don’t think I’m experiencing ‘writer’s block’ or some kind of creative burnout. It’s more like the problem I have at a full-service Chinese restaurant. There are too many tempting options. Choosing one means that I have to forgo the others. And it’s not as though I can come back tomorrow and pick something else. A good meal may last you a day, but writing a book consumes the better part of a year (or more). I doubt I’ll live long enough to turn all of the seeds I now have (or the ones I will inevitably add in the future) into completed stories, so I have to be selective. I have to weigh the potential of each of my collected seeds in terms of how good a story it will make, which would be most culturally relevant, and which might be most fun to write.
Right now, I’m still reviewing my options. Unfortunately, I’m also still collecting more seeds.