Wednesday, 3 April 2013

The Case of the Vanishing Idea...

Don't you hate it when you get an idea, but then, when you're in a position to actually do something with it (write it down and CREATE), the idea is gone? Just on the outer edge of your memory, dancing about, leaning in just to tantalise and tease you before jumping back out of reach?

Don't you just hate it?


I've been struggling, a little, with Mortal Sin. Not in a religious way, but in a creative one. Mortal Sin is the sequel to Sin and I was stuck fast with the whats, whys, whens and who-be-dos.

The 'where' was easy. I was - or rather am - setting it, once again, in Grimsby. They say 'Write what you know,' and I know Grimsby. Not quite New York or London, but it was founded by a Dane trying to protect the heir to the throne of another country from assassination. Not too shabby an origin, methinks.

I'd come up with some ideas, including a 'half-way house' where the our man (though he doesn't know he's Our Man) is taken by a woman feeling sorry for his plight. I knew exactly where this house was going to be. Welholme Road. Large homes overlooking the People's Park. Perfect. Enough room and rooms for the various odd tenants to come and go and to gradually become more... well... ODD.

Luckily, I know someone, my wife, who knows those houses inside out and can give me highly detailed plans and information about the layout etc. From the type of flooring to the colour wallpaper to the light switches, I can get a real image of what they look like inside. Not that I'll necessarily go into that amount of detail in the book. You need to picture it yourself - but I will be able to picture it myself too.

Even if yours and mine don't quite match, that's fine. It's all in the eye of the beholder, but we'll both be walking, pretty much, hand in hand.

But the rest. Sin's DEAL. What of that? Well, I had inklings. I had musings. I had odd samples of script all worked out, though they'd be forgotten by the time I came to that scene - if I ever did. But the actual MEAT, the food on which the hungry reader would satiate their appetite? Well...

A friend at work, yesterday, asked me if I'd watched the new Jonathan Creek on BBC1 on Monday night. I hadn't and I kicked myself for not realising it was on. Jonathan Creek, for the un-initiated, is an offbeat detective show starring the wonderfully strange Alan Davies as a magicians 'assistant' (in that he's the one who comes up with the illusions). He finds himself tied up in various murders and mysteries which have the police stumped and his unique outlook is the only thing that can solve them.

Jonathan Creek is... different. It's comfortable and quirky and fun and I always enjoy it. As such, I wasn't too happy that I'd missed this episode. The show finished a couple or more years ago, so I wasn't expecting it to resurface. On Monday night, oblivious to Creek’s resurrection, I'd been watching Broadchurch, an excellent drama series starring (amongst other familiar faces) ex. Doctor Who, David Tennant. So, last night, tablet in hand, I watched Jonathan Creek courtesy of the BBC iPlayer. And it was a welcome return indeed - not disappointing in the least.

So? And?

And. I don't know what, in the programme, prompted me. I really don't. But, something in that 90 minutes of conundrums and disappearing bodies, an idea popped into my head. It wandered around for a while, letting me concentrate on the show, and then, as I lay in bed, it expanded in my mind and became a plot. It became a three course meal for those ravenous readers. That was it. That was what would happen. That was the what and also the WHY.

Then I fell asleep.

Then I woke up.

Now I'm sitting here berating myself, once again (for this in not the first time) not having a notepad beside my bed.

The idea has faded. It's stepped out for a moment and may be sometime. I can just see its shadow, and its Cheshire Cat grin as it knows I'm trying to grab hold and I can't.

Maybe I'll look the other way. Pretend I'm not interested. Maybe then it'll step back within reach and I can lunge, notepad in hand, and snatch it back up, shovelling it back into my brain like coal into a bucket - fuel for the fire. No, it'd be more cramming it in, like the last pair of pants into a suitcase that you have to sit on to zip up, knowing you'll be over the weight restriction and, once opened, you'll never get it packed quite the same.

Either way, hopefully we'll be reunited, like Jonathan Creek and his not-quite sidekick Sheridan Smith. Let's hope the puzzles will be solved and the end result won't be a crime to the literary world. Eh?


  1. I know what you mean. That has happened to me so many times!

    1. I feel your pain, though I'm pleased I'm not alone!