So what does my writing have to do with Elsa from Frozen? Not a heck of a lot. But if you read on hopefully a vague link might emerge…
Okay. Most weeknights I write from 9pm-ish till 1am-ish. Yep, my desk could be tidier and I realise it’s not particularly flashy – probably not what people imagine when they think of writers’ desks. But as Stephen King explains in his excellent book ‘On Writing’, being creative has nothing to do with the grandness of your desk. In fact Stephen King prefers to tuck himself into a corner… I trust him, he seems to know a thing or two about this sort of thing.
But the reason I’ve posted a pic of my desk is to hone in on one particular drawing that’s still stuck to my clipboard. Tucked in behind one of my daughters’ many masterpieces is a sketch of some aliens. It was drawn by my mate, Heath McKenzie, when we first devised an idea for our own kids’ book series. The date on my daughter’s picture, that’s been pinned up over Heath’s sketch, indicates late 2015 but I reckon the sketch is from at least a year before that. The idea came to us around the time we were putting the finishing touches on the first four Kick it to Nick books with Crawf. And in terms of publishing, that really isn’t a long time for an idea to develop. But for someone who works in TV – which often operates on a weekly, if not daily cycle – it’s an eternity.
I’m lucky. A new idea seems to burst into my brain quite regularly. Again, maybe that’s a result of my TV background. Either way, I’ll convince myself that each idea is a spark of pure genius for a while but usually within a day or two (like Elsa from Frozen sings) I’ll… LET IT GO. But this idea about weird and wonderful aliens is one of the few concepts I couldn’t seem to let go of, despite my better judgement. It’s a little bit Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a little bit One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and a little bit Mad Magazine. Also throw in a touch of Nintendo Wii interactivity and you have all the elements of our new series, The Alien Zoo. Pretty obvious recipe right? Well, that combo might make more sense to you if you check out the book one day… And the publication date is fast approaching. We’ve just received our advanced copies! And without a hint of bias, I think Heath’s done another knock-out job with the cover. LOVE IT!
Maybe I’m on my own here, but sometimes I feel like I don’t actually find the ideas, instead it seems like the ideas find me. When I was first dreaming up The Alien Zoo it was definitely one of those moments. I’ve had hundreds of ideas since and I dismissed The Alien Zoo concept from time to time as being too weird or a little risky. But despite my doubts it unassumingly seemed to gather momentum from the very first moment Heath drew this full-bodied farter.
While the left-side of my brain nagged me to pursue more obvious concepts, it looks like the right-side will get the last laugh. See, this slightly out-there idea about twins running a secret zoo for aliens is about to hit the shelves nationwide to kick off a new kids’ books series. So, what does this all mean? In short, I’m not entirely sure. But here’s a theory: if an idea keeps demanding attention then maybe that’s a sign it’s a darn good one. I mean, as Elsa also said (in a lesser-known part of her song): The wind is howling like a swirling storm inside, couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I’ve tried. And for the purpose of this blog post I’m going to assume she’s talking about an idea, not flatulence.
So, my very humble advice to all you creative types out there (young and old) is if you come up with a wild but wonderful idea, no matter what your practical side says, just (DON’T) LET IT GO! Because it might actually work!