Tuesday, May 2, 2017

FAQ Blog Series -- Where do Your Ideas Come From?

Another question I'm asked frequently is where I get my ideas.  There isn't one answer to this.  The truth is we all have ideas.  I think that creative people (writers, artists, musicians, etc.) simply learn to capture and then follow through on the ideas/thoughts that we all get. 


Creative people spend a lot of time in our own heads.  We're always thinking or day dreaming, lost in our heads.  Anything can trigger an idea.  It can be an image or a question.  I can be music or a line of poetry.  It can be a dream or a person you find interesting. 

The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin sprang from two events in my life: the birth of my son, and adopting my first daughter.  My husband and I went through several years of infertility.  We had finally decided to pursue adoption when we found out that I was pregnant.  We put our adoption plans on hold as we awaited the birth of our son.  I was due May 22, 2003. 

In mid-late January, I started getting sick, and I started having what I thought were contractions.  The doctor dismissed them as Braxton-Hicks (false contractions).  I started losing weight and vomiting.  I was in constant pain.  Finally, I was admitted to the hospital in late February.  I was in pre-term labor. 

Doctors stopped the labor, but I was still sick.  I couldn't eat and I started having very high fevers.  I passed in and out of consciousness.  This continued for two weeks.  On March 12, 2003 my son's heart rate dropped and they did an emergency c-section. There, they discovered that I had developed peritonitis and was in multi-system organ failure.  They told my family I wouldn't survive.  My son was little, but fine. 

Obviously, I survived, and we found out that I have Crohn's disease (which is what caused my sickness).  After I recovered and adjusted to being a mom,  I started wondering what would have happened if things had turned out differently: What if I hadn't survived?  How would my son feel knowing his birth had caused my death? 

Grace in Nanjing China.
That was the genesis of Peculiar Miracles, but I didn't start writing yet.  The idea only came together after we adopted our daughter, Grace, from China unaware that she was severely disabled.  Unbeknownst to us, Grace was developmentally delayed, on the autism spectrum, had seizures, tuberculosis, and many other issues. 

It took me a long time to adjust to parenting a child with such severe special needs, but once I did I returned to the question I asked after my son's birth, but this time with a twist: What if a child like Grace lost her mother? 

You see, when you have a special needs child, you're more than just their mother.  You're their link with the outside world.  It's a terrible thing for any child to lose their mother, but it adds another dimension when that child has special needs. 

With that question, the character of Antoinette was born, and with her the story began to take shape. 

Inspiration can come from anywhere.  For me, it seems to spring from thinking about the difficult times in my life.  The things I don't understand. The things that make me ask, Why did this happen to me?  (Just so you know, I've never been able to satisfactorily answer that question.  The best I can come up with is: "That's life.") 

Truthfully, coming up with ideas is the easy part.  The hard part is following through on them.  In fact, I think the question shouldn't be "Where do you get your ideas?" but "How do you follow through on your ideas?"  And that's what I'll be talking about next time.




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