Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's not a dumb idea!

By: Kristi Hartman

My family and I went camping this last weekend to Rocky Mountain National Park.  The views were amazing, the wildlife was abundant, and the nights were freezing cold.  
Camping with small children is quite the experience, let me tell you.  I could be a negative Nancy and only talk about how there seemed to be an endless number of children running in opposite directions the entire time (we camped with 10 kids :O), I could tell you that my toddler doesn't have very good balance and fell several times a day face-down into the dirt resulting in small rocks and dirt up his nose, or how no one got very much sleep because of freezing cold nights (as referenced above), or that one morning I woke up with some kind of stomach bug.  THAT was fun. 

But I won't. Anymore anyway.

Aside from the drama that comes from camping with small children, I love being up in the mountains.  It is so inspiring in a variety of ways.  It just makes me feel more alive, more present, and wanting to put a fresher take on my life.  

While we were camping I was squeezing in small amounts of time reading a book by Mary Higgins Clark, and managed to finish it while I was up there.  At the end of the novel there was a section titled:
             'Read about the inspiration behind other classic novels by Mary Higgins Clark.'  

 To quote her on some here are two examples:  

For her book:  'Weep No More My Lady'  
"At the time I wrote that book I had just gone to a famous spa, Maine Chance in Arizona.  It was the ultimate in luxury and something I could never have afforded if I hadn't by then become a successful writer.  I asked myself, wouldn't it be interesting if in a place like this, where everyone is waited on and pampered, that a killer is stalking his victims and waiting in a wet suit at the bottom of the pool to drown them?  The prospect gave me the shivers, and I was on my way.  

For her book:  'Let Me Call You Sweetheart'
I love jewelry and have a few pieces that once belonged to my mother-in-law.  One pin especially is unique.  I thought it would be interesting if that pin could get someone on a path to murder.  As a secondary theme, the idea of a plastic surgeon giving a number of women the same face, I thought offered a meaty plot because why would any doctor do that?  A third plot element was the idea of a young man in prison for a murder he didn't commit.  I threw these together-the jewelry, the plastic surgeon, and the innocent prisoner.  Let Me Call You Sweetheart was the result.  

Isn't that interesting?  She takes her ideas and inspiration from so many different areas and things, and crafts them all together into an entertaining and exciting book.  

This is something I have been trying to work on in my writing and creativity side.  Not dismissing things because maybe my immediate reaction is- "No, Kristi, that's a dumb idea," and turning it into- "Hey, maybe that could work."  And "Why not?"
Imagine if all the writers we know and love out there didn't let that little idea take place in their heart and let it grow?  We would be missing out on so much.  

On our way to and from our campsite we drove through Estes Park, CO and every time I pass through that cute mountain town I try to get a good look at the Stanley Hotel.  
If you're not familiar with the Stanley Hotel it is a beautiful, Georgian-style hotel that opened in 1909. It's such a pretty place.  The bright white exterior and warm red roof command attention next to the mountain landscape surrounding it.  Perhaps one of the things it is best known for is it's inspirational role in the Stephen King novel, The Shining.

From what I know, Stephen King stayed in the Stanley Hotel either just before/during the winter, and its ominous history of hauntings sparked the idea for the book.  
Stephen King saw an interesting location, maybe thought, 'what if...?' and let the story flow.  
Combined with his talent for writing and an interesting idea, something successful took place.  Now, I haven't actually ever read The Shining, nor do I plan to, but I do know that as writers, we need to look toward examples of those who have taken that risk, and just let their ideas and stories flow.

Maybe it will be wildly successful and be read by millions?  Or maybe not.  We at least have to give it a chance to grow, and see what comes of it.  

So the next time you get a crazy thought in your head that gives you pause, maybe it's your creative brain trying to tell you something.  Don't dismiss it, it's not a dumb idea!


  1. Thanks for the reminder, Kristi! I have far too many of those “Wouldn’t it be cool if...?” ideas. If only I had hours and hours of time to work on them all... ;-) I am inspired by Shannon Hale- I just stumbled across her new book, “Dangerous” at the library, and my first thought, when I saw the “Sci Fi” sticker on the spine, was that I am so glad that she is writing whatever strikes her fancy. Mostly because that means I can do the same thing, if I want. :-)

  2. Thanks for your comment! I agree it would be so nice to have the freedom to give all of our fun ideas the attention they deserve. For now I will have to settle with hurriedly typing them in my notes app on my iPhone and trying to get back to it later. ;)

  3. Thanks for this thought. Something Brandon Sanderson says about this made me laugh--he says he has a file of a bunch of things that he thinks would be "awesome," and when he's choosing directions for some of his stories, he goes for as many awesome things as possible. (Okay, the way he said it was cooler, but the point is that he puts stuff in his books that he thinks would be awesome, and I think that's a great way of looking at it all.)

  4. Fantastic post. I've been learning to write down all the ideas that interest me. I'm even thinking of sticking them in Trello as a kind of virtual notecard file. I've never used it before, so it'll be an adventure in more ways than one, lol. Until then, I have a notebook and pen that I carry with me. It's invaluable.

  5. Camping is not for me and yes I tried it once when I was younger since Tim was all into camping but I didn't like it all and have no plans to do it again and there was no way I would do it with young children



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