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The Worst Thing Imaginable

Last weekend I sat down in front of my computer to get in some work.  I figured I would shift focus a little bit away from my novels and work on a short story - I haven't written one in awhile, but it's a good format to clear my head and work on my structure.

The problem?  I completely forgot what my premise was going to be.

I get ideas for stories all the time.  They come out of nowhere and everywhere.  Sometimes it's because I witness an actual event that inspires a story. But usually it's more arbitrary than that.

For example: I'll see, say, a salt shaker on a table, and the salt shaker will make me think of rimming a martini glass with salt, and then that makes me think of a lounge singer who drinks martinis all the time, and then the lounge singer makes me think about the mob, and then that makes me think about violence and murder, and then I come up with some convoluted scheme about an assassin who murders somebody with poisoned salt, and then that becomes a completely ridiculous story about an incompetent assassin who keeps trying and failing to kill people because all of his schemes are too elaborate and contrived.

Whenever I have an idea like this, I try to make a point of writing it down in a working premise list.  That way I can dig it up later if I'm ever stuck for something to write about.  See, I have this ridiculous obsession with documenting my creative process - somewhere in the last twenty years I got it into my head that all of my ideas are hugely profitable, and if I fail to write one of them, I'll lose out on unimaginable riches.

Unfortunately, sometimes I don't get to write it down.  Either I'm too far removed from anywhere that I can document it - like I'm in the shower or I'm driving - or I get cocky and think to myself, "No way will I forget this one!  This is pure gold!  I'll remember this for the rest of my life!"

Inevitably, I forget those premises.  And it bums me out every single time.

What if that idea was the one that would make me famous?  What if that was the one that would win me an award?  Or what if it wouldn't really give me any success, but it would become hugely popular in my postmortem years and turn into a new literary classic?  Or maybe it wouldn't really have had much of a following, but there was one specific fan who would read that story in a magazine ten years from now and be inspired, and then they would grow up to be Elizabeth Campbell, the first woman to become president of the United States and also the first person to set foot on Mars?

So I spent a significant amount of time last weekend looking at a blank screen and hating myself for having forgotten a premise.  I only remember that I had an idea of some sort... and it seemed like a good story.  But who knows what it could've been.  Now it's just an irritating non-event.

I'm so sorry, Elizabeth.  I hope you at least can still get into NASA without me.