I’ve seen a lot of posts and Tweets lately discussing the need to mine ideas, no matter how ridiculous they may be. Polls about how often one has had a seemingly “dumb” idea that turned out to be amazing, how often one comes up with a seemingly dumb idea that turns out to be just what the doctor ordered in their current work in progress, and so on.
But what about the other side of the coin? What about the times you’ve had an idea that seems to be absolute brilliance in a can, that perfect concept that you hadn’t seen done before and that would easily be your great work… and then have a moment where you read back, clutch your head or start bashing your face on the desk and say to yourself: “Jesus. This is fucking stupid.”?
I bet that happens a lot more than people are willing to let on. I know it’s happened to me; in one of the many, many attempts to work on Palace of the Ebon Dragon, I had retooled things to the point where a handful of ancient spirit entities – who may or may not have been angels, though they presented themselves as such – were responsible for keeping the titular dragon chained and sleeping. The dragon has manipulated events to get a special ghost under his thumb, who will then release those bindings and free the beast.
Seemed like a fun and interesting idea, at least until I started writing it. Then it started to feel like bad Mega Man boss rush fanfiction. It was probably fixable, but by the time I realized the problem, I was in too deep. So into the junk pile it went as I attempted a different approach to the story.
I’m sure its not the only time. But it’s the one I remember best. Maybe because I’ve been trying to find a way to tell the Ebon Dragon’s story for fifteen years or so. I’ll figure it out eventually, I guess.
I can’t be the only one, right? What about those of you out there? Have you had an idea that seemed like a flash of insight that turned into rancid milk when you tried to pour it on the page? (Better question; are you able to admit it and suffer the cringing?) Let us know down below!