This transcript of yesterday's Q&A session is brought to you by The Hobbit.
My fandom of J.R.R. Tolkien's books was created by my father. He read the entire series to me, tirelessly, and then when I begged he read it again. And again. And again.
I honestly don't know how many times he read those books out loud. A lot, is probably the safest estimate. Of course, I've tried to carry on the tradition by reading The Hobbit to my children which is why, The Desolation of Smaug, was mandatory weekend viewing for us.
It turns out that, despite having both read the book myself and heard it read many times, I'm still lacking in my Hobbit knowledge. Here's a list of the top popcorn breath questions whispered mid-movie.
1. Where are all the girl Orcs?
Me: Not sure.
2. And how do they reproduce so quickly? Is someone spawning them like in Minecraft?
Me: I don't think so, but that's a good question. Shhh.
3. Where does the shapeshifter keep his clothes? Are they in the barn?
Me: In the trees.
Them: Where in the trees?
Me: They don't show that part. Shhh.
4. In the dark forest: Why are they all acting so weird.
Me: The air is sort of like a hallucinogenic.
Them: What's that.
Me: Never mind.
Them: TELL US!!!!
Me: The air makes them dizzy. Shhh!
5. When you're wearing the ring does it allow you to understand spider tongue?
6. Followed quickly by: Do you think if they met hamsters they would understand hamster tongue?
Them: Giggles of delight.
7. When the elves are going over the waterfalls in barrels: Why aren't the barrels filling up with water? Are they magic barrels?
Me: Yes. They're filled with elven magic.
8. When Gandalf sees the Dark Lord. Why does it keep showing that figure going in on himself?
Me: It's supposed to represent infinite evil. Them: Ohhhh!
9. Who do you like better Katniss or Tauriel?
Me: Can't compare. They're different species.
10: When can we see the next one?
Me: Next Christmas
I absolutely silence my phone in the theater. But...I'm still working on my children. Until I get that figured out, you might want to sit a few rows away from us.
Here's how I work. I write 2000 words a day, give or take a few. At some point during this process the idea for a new book pops into my head. That's where it stays, in utero, while I first write then edit and edit and edit the work in progress.
That's the, to use a phrase I find slightly pretentious, artistic process. At least that's what it's been until this year.
Don't get me wrong, I've been creating my 2k a day. The writing piece is working as it has in the past, but what's not working, or I should say is working on overdrive, is the bun in the oven piece.
Before I started the work in progress, I had to make a choice between this book and another book I wanted to write. Which was fine, I told myself, because I'll just write the next one, next year.
It can wait.
It'll be very tender and juicy after a year of brain marination.
And then I had another idea.
A story that woke me up in the strange daze of pre-creativity that can take over an entire day. I wandered around my house with the dawning realization that THIS, this was the story that needed to be written.
It's beautiful, sad, but I think, an ultimately uplifting modern love story. I wrote the first page. Trapped my initial ideas on my laptop and thought, okay, maybe that's next years book.
Which was my working plan until this morning when another idea struck, fully formed, characters, plot, setting, title, everything. It woke me up too (like someone's been shooting my brain full of Pitocin) and I stayed in bed imagining all the details of this new book until the alarm went off.
So basically, I have triplets in utero. And like any expectant parent of three, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed.
They ALL want my attention.
As any parent discovers, it's all about balance. But each idea feels more needy than the next. For the moment, I'm locking my book babies in virtual space and ignoring their clamoring (one of the many ways parenting books differs from parenting children). Hopefully, they'll be patient and wait until I'm ready to deal with them.
What about you? How do you manage ideas that catch you off guard?