At one of the panels I did at Pac-Con Spokane, I had a gentleman ask the panel if we ever had a story come to us, were really enthusiastic about it, then it left us. This particular person said it happened to him and about a week later he saw a show that followed his story to the letter.
At the time, I answered that I had stories come and leave me just like that. I even said something to the effect that I believe sometimes stories are taken away from us if we don’t get to work on them. I really do believe that. In some ways, I feel that Harry Potter should have been my idea, even though I’m not British and I wouldn’t have had any clue about a boarding school.
Unfortunately, at the time of the panel, I couldn’t think of any stories that came and left. Then, I was working on rearranging a few things in my office and looking for a story I wanted to get back to work on when I came across two old files. One was called “Vapors” and the other “Overboard.” These were two stories that I was all raring to go on and that came to a sudden halt. Heck, I can still remember when Vapors came to me — I was 15 at the time. I really felt like it was going to launch me to stardom.
So why can’t I work on it?
I just don’t feel that passionate about it right now. That’s not to say that I won’t ever. In fact, as I’m sitting here writing this post, I am remembering the storyline even though I never opened the file; it wasn’t what I was looking for so I had moved on. I do also remember seeing The Mummy – they actually use “my idea” in it very loosely. I’ve seen another movie that made use of “my idea.”
Some may say, well, if he just started working on his idea and it got “taken away and given to someone else,” why is he seeing the show a week later? Timey-whimey, is my reply.
There is nothing new under the sun. Even so-called “original ideas” are really just spins on other ideas.
So how do you get ideas to stop from leaving you? I don’t think there is a way to force the Muse to stay on your shoulder and tell you a story. Sometimes, you have to just put your bottom in the chair and work on the story without the Muse. Sometimes all you need to do is show up and the Muse “feels guilty” and joins you. Sometimes you just have to have faith in your story. Sometimes, it might be time to let the story “winter” for a bit and when your life enters another season it might come back to you or you might find something better. You just never know. It’s okay to let the story slip away.
The story you let get away might be the treasure for someone else. Don’t worry; your time will come around too.