Saturday, September 01, 2007


I had an idea once. Of course, I've had more than one idea in my life, but I'm referring to one specific idea.

When we lived at our previous house, there was a surprisingly large crawl space under the stairs. We usually referred to it as the cubby hole, though it was bigger than it's name implied. You could step into it, then squat down and crawl to the back wall and then crawl into a big, empty space to your right. The space branched off even more, some under steps, and into a bigger, darker space next to the steps.

We used this space for storage, of course. That's where the Christmas tree and all it's trimmings spent eleven months out of the year. Along with the camping gear, suitcases and boxes that were left unopened after the last move. But the best thing we used the crawl space for was playtime.

My kids would ask, "Mom, can we explore the crawl space?" and then they would go in there with their little flashlights (or sometimes, no lights at all) and imagine that they were in a completely new world just waiting for all its mysteries to be discovered. Naturally, big kid that I am, I joined them on many adventures into this other world.

And naturally, writer that I am, these adventures sparked an idea. What about a story in which children explore a crawl space and uncover a magical portal to another world, where all kinds of adventures awaited them? What a wonderful idea. Unfortunately, ideas come easily, but my attempts at turning this idea into a viable story were unsuccessful.

But today, while at the bookstore, I discovered that this idea (or a very similar one) worked quite well for another writer. It was my son's choice for his Summer Reading Club award. A book titled The Secrets of Droon: The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet, about an adventure into a magic portal under the stairs!

"Hey, that's MY idea!" I cried (or would have cried if I hadn't been in the bookstore). I thought I had been so original. But, as I said earlier, ideas come easily. At least to me.

Maybe ideas float around, waiting for writers to snatch them out of the air. And if there are hundreds of the same idea at once, more than one writer is gonna get hold of it. Who's to say which of us will be the one to make it work?

So all this going around in my head made me think of another idea that I happened to have snatched out of the air I-don't-know-how-long ago. Suddenly it came to me that this idea doesn't have to be a picture book, and I saw how to make it work as a chapter book. Maybe even a series of chapter books! So, it's time for me to stop messing around. After all, maybe another writer has snatched the same idea and is hard at work on it while I've been letting it sit around in my head doing nothing.

1 comment:

  1. I think you are on to something here. I have noticed this with the movie industry. Antz and Bugs Life came out at about the same time. Nemo and Sharks Tale came out at about the same time.

    So you are going to snatch some writing ideas huh? Go for it!