Ask Melinda: Where Did You Get That Idea?

Question: How do you get ideas for your books?

The truth is: Everywhere. Anywhere. Seems to me that topics-I-really-need-to-get-on-paper-immediately-before-I-forget sprout up like dandelions. At least ten times a day, I say to myself, “I want to write about that!” I get up every morning and start my day just like the rest of you. I plan on dieting. Then I eat too much. I make a to-do list at dawn and end up crossing nothing off before sundown–even though I was so busy all day I never even sat down for a glass of sweet tea. As a mother of three teenagers, no matter how much writing I plan to do, other less important (to me) tasks—like laundry, dinner preparation, or ferrying children hither and yon–interrupt my day and clamor for my attention. William Faulkner said that a writer only ever gets a few minutes here and there to write. He got that right.

Here’s how I see it: I’m lucky. I write about my regular life. That means that I don’t have to beat the bushes for material. It comes to me! I thought about titling my first book The Ordinary Exalted. I still like that title. It sums up my life philosophy perfectly: there are moments of heaven sandwiched right in the minutia of the daily grind. You have to look for them. They’re easy to miss. Because God sends me lots of character-building adventures every single day, I never know what will happen next. I always tell my readers: “You may be in my next book! Prepare yourself.” I use good material wherever I find it. I do not have time to fool around. Like the rest of you, I am a busy person.

Bottom line: I get inspired to write by odd things—a sentence or two from someone, a conversation I overhear, or a story I read. I am often inspired by my interaction with people in daily jaunts to the store, school, and church, ordinary places we all go. Human beings never cease to amaze me—by the heights we attain in the direst of circumstances and by the depths of our depravity. Humor is my way of coping with life. Nothing makes me happier than hearing someone say he or she laughed out loud reading my books. Nothing. I love when readers say, “You are writing about my life!” Yes, indeed, I certainly am. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the new book, I’ve Had It Up To Here With Teenagers. I have a feeling I’m going to be the recipient of some entertaining stories. I’m gleefully anticipating hearing about what happens at your house! Lord knows, you know all about what happens at mine.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Ask Melinda: Where Did You Get That Idea?

  1. Marissa

    That’s what I love about your writing — you find the humor in everyday life. You crack me up all the time, MRT! Keep on sharing with us those hilarious daily gems, and we’ll keep laughing out loud.

  2. Cool blog! I am looking forward to reading more. Thanks for visiting me on my SITS Day! Please, come back anytime!

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