I think it’s human nature to want to talk more about our successes than our defeats, but today I’m going to go against my instincts and tell you about some of my bad ideas.
I brainstorm a lot of ideas for books every year. Some are better than others. Some sound great to me but turn out to be huge time sucks because the ideas are bad.
Take my idea for a Holocaust love story. Makes you want to run out and buy it, right? But I promise you I want to write that book. It’s one of those ideas that sticks around in the back of my mind. I’ve always been intrigued by World War II and I used to teach eighth grade students about the Holocaust. It wasn’t a particularly romantic time, but I think it could make for a really great and poignant love story.
And yes, I know quite a few literary fiction novels have been set in that setting, but I want to write a Holocaust romance novel! Is that idea really so bad?
Okay, how about a French Revolution love story? I even wrote 200 pages of this book. The French Revolution is another of those bloody time periods that intrigues me but isn’t particularly intriguing to readers. I guess it’s something about the chopping off of heads. I couldn’t get an editor to buy it. Even when I rewrote it as a young adult novel, I couldn’t sell it. But I’m not giving up. Somewhere, sometime, someone is going to want that French Revolution romance. You know where to find me.
I have bad ideas outside of my author life too. I recently acquired two stray kittens. That wasn’t such a good idea when I have a three-year-old, who thinks the poor cats are her dolls. But an even worse idea was trying to take the two cats and the three-year-old to the vet on Friday afternoon. Did I really think that would go well? Did I really think no one was going to get scratched or peed on or burst into tears? Babysitters are made for appointments like that one.
And those of you with kids know that it often takes a lot of trial and error before you stop succumbing to bad ideas with your kids. My windshield had a growing crack in it, and I knew I had to take it to be replaced. I made an appointment and stopped by with Baby Galen in tow. I don’t know why I believed the guy when he told me it would only take an hour. I don’t know why I thought a car repair shop was a good place to take a toddler. At lunchtime. Going into nap time. Surrounded by power tools and glass windshields. You get the picture. I was a wreck when we finally left.
What about you? Have you had any particularly memorable bad ideas?