People often ask me, “Where do you get your ideas from?” I find ideas in all sorts of places but quite often, when I’m still and absorbed in a totally different activity, ideas just pop into my mind.
In the dark winter months, I spend a lot of evenings sewing and all I have all sorts of ideas in my head then. Here are some of the things I’ve made in the last few winters.
This morning, I was out the back transplanting marigolds. All I could hear was the distant hum of traffic on the outer ring road and the sound of blackbirds, sparrows and blue tits singing, calling out and flying in and out of the laurel bush. (I think there’s an estate of nests in there.) Over the railway line, above the hawthorn bushes, the crows and the magpies were cawing and complaining, as they do. Anyway, I was standing at the table, lifting seedlings from the tray and transplanting them into pots when suddenly the most brilliant idea came into my head. I put everything down and in my compost-flecked clothes dashed into the house and recorded my idea quickly in my ‘ideas’ book.
That is the very easy bit. It’s the sowing the seed bit but all ideas need working on. Like marigolds, they have to be tended, watered, transplanted, protected from frost and eventually, when the conditions are right, they have to be planted out and shared with the world.
Everybody has ideas. Lots of people say, “I have a great idea for a novel…” but only writers transform those ideas from a packet of seeds into a beautiful mature plant… a novel, a short story, a poem or a play. When those ideas blossom, they will change the world and inspire others. Some ideas are like acorns: they’ll take many years to grow into a mature oak tree of a novel. Others are like my marigolds: they germinate and grow at a rapid rate.
Today and tomorrow, if you have an idea – write it down and work on it. With your care and attention, watch it grow. Switch off the phone, the laptop, the tablet, the TV and radio. Create the right growing space for your idea and let it germinate, take roots and grow.