Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.
— Thomas Edison
I wake up groggy and roll to my side.
It’s 3 a.m.
Then, something hits me. It’s an idea, a glorious nugget of a story that I just have to get down–somewhere–before it is gone forever.
I reach over and snatch my phone. Frantically, I scroll to my notes app and begin feverishly pecking away at the small electronic keyboard until the idea is down in a string of misspellings and typos that only I can understand.
I roll back over and slip back into my dreams; hopefully the next will be as fruitful as the last.
This is a common occurrence for me. Most of the ideas for my books rush into my consciousness in the wee hours of the night. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is because my brain is uncluttered from the events of the day, filtered out through rest and deep sleep.
I always make sure to have my phone at arm’s length because of this.
In fact, the idea behind Uncanny Valley, a trilogy I am in the middle for writing, came to me in such a half-roused state. It was a simple scene, just a small snippet of a larger story of what would happen if a race of androids who were almost human–but not quite–tried to assimilate into human life.
The hard part was fleshing that idea out.
It took a lot of perspiration.
I learned, though, that no idea is too small or two far-fetched. I have 169 files at this moment in my Notes app, all with unique and disjointed ideas. Most I will never pursue, but some I will.
It’s interesting to go back and read through these hodgepodge of notions. Some are laughably bad (a mystery revolving around a serial killer that murders with a SodaStream, for instance), while others are intriguing enough to perhaps pursue later.
At first, I didn’t write down every idea that came to me. I let some sink back into my subconscious, never to rise to the surface again. I realized that was a missed opportunity, because even bad ideas are amusing (see SodaStream Killer).
Now, I don’t let an idea go unexplored.
The middle of the night isn’t the only time inspiration comes to me.
Sometimes it’ll be while I’m driving or brushing my teeth or walking my dog. Sometimes an idea will strike me while I’m watching a documentary on television or even while waiting in line at the supermarket.
It’s actually quite amazing how many ideas for a post-apocalyptic story you gleen from standing in line at a WalMart.
But I’m always on the lookout for the next shot of inspiration.
Unfortunately, that’s the easy part.
The hard part is fleshing those ideas out into a short story, a novella or a novel.
That’s where the perspiration comes in.
The important thing is listen to those creative thoughts, even if they are just a whisper at 3 a.m.
By Mike Kilroy
B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree
Mike Kilroy has been an award-winning journalist for more than twenty years. He first developed his love for writing when he was 8 and sculpted a story for a school projected called “The Venusians.”
He has turned that passion cultivated at an early age into a successful and award-winning writing career.
His first novel, the post-apocalyptic fright-fest “Nine Meals” was recognized as one of the top indie books with several awards, including the B.R.A.G. Medallion, and reached No. 32 on the Top 100 Best Sellers list in Amazon’s Kindle store.
Kilroy currently lives in Pittsburgh with his wife Dahn, dog Fumble, two cats named Milo and Dexter, a cockatiel named Gizmo and has twenty-four devices that can connect to the Internet.
Find out more about Kilroy by following him on Twitter @KilroyWasHere7, joining his Facebook fan page at KilroyAuthor7 or check out his Website
About Nine Meals-Award Winning Book
When the sun belched and the power grid failed, it was only nine meals until the end of the world. Billy “Shep” Shepard always thought the apocalypse would come from an asteroid with a funny name, or a super bug, or a nuclear war, or even Yellowstone blowing its top. It came from none of those things. Instead it came from an angry sun in the form of the biggest Coronal Mass Ejection mankind had ever seen – and it slapped the human race back a century. In these grim times, people kill for food, water and weapons. They scratch out a feeble existence after “The Ejection.” But not Shep. His biggest question each day in his underground bunker is “Cheese Ravioli, Beefaroni or SpaghettiOs?” Shep soon discovers that nothing in this new world is guaranteed. He and Antigone, a girl he rescues, are forced to take a perilous journey across an unyielding landscape toward the one place rumored to be unsullied by the disaster. Along the way they must overcome hunger, disease, desperation and death while running from a man who wants nothing more than vengeance.