Tag Archives: writing

Toothache and Inspiration, or, Where My Ideas Come From, Part II

Yesterday, I delved a little into the process by which new ideas arrive. I described my latest idea as WATERSHIP DOWN meets POST OFFICE meets…something else. Well, after waking up with toothache (not for the first time) this morning at 5am, I lay in bed and watched the story slowly unfold in my mind. It wasn’t quite like a movie as you see it in the theatre, more like the disjointed footage seen only by a film’s editor, but I began to form an impression of where the story wanted to go. The “something else” or missing ingredient, I discovered, was “post apocalyptic story.” In high concept terms, that’s THE STAND or such like. Once I had this aspect of the tale, the plot began to spool through my mind until I had no chance of ever getting back to sleep. So, I staggered downstairs and fired up the laptop. Fifteen hundred words later, I have the blueprint for my next story, THE SOUND OF CONSTANT THUNDER.

It is the kind of story idea that excites me, the kind that arrives as a gift. It is almost as if it wants to be written. It’s preternatural, but at the same time completely natural. It’s a beautiful thing.

All there is for me to do now is write the words, put them in the correct order, and pray I don’t f#ck it up.

Where My Ideas Come From

Since my return to writing short fiction last year (following a three year hiatus in which I finished my novel), I have found the process of getting new ideas spookily consistent.  An idea invariably comes to me either while I am writing the current story or right after its completion.  I’m not one of these writers who walks around with a thousand of them jostling for attention inside my head.  Yes, I have other ideas, usually in note form and stockpiled in a box somewhere, but recently they’ve all arrived at precisely the right time.  Which is:  Just When I Need Them.

Take the new one, for example.

At the time of writing this blog post, it is shaping up as WATERSHIP DOWN meets POST OFFICE meets…something else.  The inspiration struck on Saturday, while my wife and I were out walking in Salisbury.  When we crossed a bridge over the river Avon, I saw below us, on the river bank, a number of (what I assumed were) rabbit holes.  I stopped.  I took it in.  I walked on.  During the next few hours, I thought about the road traffic noise and what it must be like for those rabbits in their holes, how it must drive them insane sometimes.  Right there.  The spark.  And all going well, THE SOUND OF CONSTANT THUNDER should end up being my next project.  The bones need a little meat still, but that should come, if the pattern continues, while I am putting the finishing touches to my current project, a love story with a dark, supernatural twist called MEN PLAYING GHOSTS, PLAYING GODS.

I know.  I probably shouldn’t question or analyse inspiration and the origin of ideas, but after many years of writing, the process – if it can be called that and not simply good fortune – still amazes me.

What I’ve Been Up To and Where We Go From Here

Steven J. DinesWhat you’re looking at is my official web site.  From this day forward, you will be able to find all of my writing-related news and updates right here.  I am approaching this as a continuation of – and improvement upon – my blog.  Since my last post (on July 2011) a lot has happened.  I quit my job of nearly 12 years and moved from Aberdeen, Scotland to Sliema in Malta.  After 5 months in Malta, my wife and I decided to abandon our plans to settle there and moved back to the UK (for a number of reasons, but mainly because of concerns relating to our son).  Rather than return to my home city, we chose to settle in Salisbury.  A lovely place.  The motivation behind our original move was change, though perhaps not the huge change a move overseas entails, fun though it definitely was.  Anyway, we’ve been in Salisbury for 2 months now and hope to settle permanently here (or hereabouts).

Since July 2011, I have also finished my first novel, THE OTHER SIDE.  While I’ve been working on other projects I admit I’ve become a little bit lax in my efforts to find an agent and/or publisher.  Six months have passed since it’s completion and I haven’t done nearly enough.  I hope to rectify that in the months ahead.

Also, while in Malta, I returned to writing short fiction after a hiatus of 3-4 years.  I’d been focussing solely on THE OTHER SIDE, which took approx. 5 years to write.  I’ve written 4 short stories since then, THE THINGS THAT GET YOU THROUGH, THE GIRLS ON THE BEACH, THE MACHINEHOUSE WORKER’S SONG, and A TRICK OF THE NIGHT.

THE THINGS THAT GET YOU THROUGH has been accepted for publication by Black Static, possibly the UK’s top horror magazine.

A TRICK OF THE NIGHT has been accepted by Fireside, an ambitious new online mag that has featured some big names so far.

THE MACHINEHOUSE WORKER’S SONG is currently under consideration and I’m hopeful it will find a good home quite soon.

THE GIRLS ON THE BEACH is currently awaiting further revision.

So far, so good.

Now I am back in the UK and getting re-settled, I hope to write a lot more short fiction while I try to secure an agent and publisher for my novel.

This web site’s main focus will be on my writing – updates about my work in progress, publication news, etc. – as well as the occassional book or film review, and perhaps even some free flash & short fiction in the near future.  If any of that is of interest to you, please follow my updates by clicking on the appropriate link at the right hand side of the page.  Also, I’ll be adding to the sub-menus in the coming weeks & months, so keep an eye on those, too.  Finally, thanks for dropping by, and of course do come again.  More updates very soon.