Ideas come all over the place. I’ve gotten them on the bus, in the shower, listening to music, lying in bed trying to go to sleep, everywhere. Most writers do, from the answers I’ve heard to the question above.
And from watching movies and TV, of course. It happened just yesterday, actually, when I took my kid to see ‘Rise of the Guardians’, because a two-year-old is a brilliant excuse to go to kid’s movies two or three times. Had a plot-bunny come and start nibbling on my brain, which is still there this morning. And did it have anything to do with holidays or guardians of childhood?
Heck, no. That would make sense. My brain doesn’t hold with that.
No, somehow *my* brain went from ‘Rise of the Guardians’ to the original ‘Little Mermaid’ to a bitter, sardonic mentor-figure in soot-stained clothes, perpetually holding a cigarette that she never smokes, working off her karmic debts so she can go to Heaven, because that’s an entirely logical progression, right?
I have always loathed the ending of The Little Mermaid, because the mermaid is offered a chance to earn a soul of her own not by her own actions, but by passively observing humanity. So I went from there to earning your way into Heaven through *action* and then I started wondering who has to earn their way in. The good get in automatically, the wicked proverbially do not, so who gets the penalty round?
Accidental killers, my brain said. Drunk-drivers, bullies who drive someone to suicide, idiots who got careless with a gun, that sort of thing. Murder through carelessness or willful cruelty is still murder, and if you caused someone’s death then you’re going down – but if you did it without meaning to, you get one shot at working it off. Earning forgiveness by becoming a Penitent, a ghost of sorts, balancing the cosmic scales with life and joy for the pain and sorrow you caused.
I’m still working on the story that goes with it, but it’s got potential. I’ve always liked stories about Death and the Afterlife that are heavier on the justice than the treacly sentiment. Forget coming to terms with your death, forgiving those who hurt your feelings, etc – I want to see someone dragged before Anubis or St Peter or whoever’s handling the dead in that ‘verse, and brought to account for their own actions.
As for Giulia, the woman with the cigarette? Well, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was started by a carelessly discarded cigarette. 146 people died. That’s a lot to work off.
Does anyone else’s brain go off on wacky tangents when inspired, or is it just mine?