Many moons ago I found myself in a bar called Green’s Grocery just outside of Nashville, attending a wedding reception for an old friend of mine. After wishing the newlyweds well I found an empty chair and struck up a conversation with a very nice man who turned out to be an accountant. When he asked what I did for a living I told him I was a storyteller. His eyes widened a bit as if I had confessed to alchemy.
From that moment it was little more than a hop, skip and jump to the question that every writer is asked sooner or later: where do you get your ideas? It was a question I’d been asked before, but until that day I had never fully realized that the human ability to invent stories or cobble them together out of life events is not universal.
As I talked with the man, and struggled to explain how ideas came to me, it became clear that he had never had the same thing happen to him. The more I tried to abstract the process, or explain it by using analogies, the more he insisted that the kind of narrative genesis I had been familiar with since childhood was simply foreign to him. The absurdity of the thought almost convinced me that he was pulling my leg, but it was obvious that he wasn’t. He simply did not think that way. [ Read more ]