Gregory Frost is a science fiction and fantasy writer I met in Philadelphia, when I wrote a round-up article about the local science fiction scene for Philadelphia Magazine. He was living near another writer, Tim Sullivan (who eventually moved elsewhere). The two, with others, were in the orbit of Gardner R. Dozois, editor of one of the few remaining science fiction pulp publications, Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.
Greg and I became the kind of friends who don’t see each other that much, but, when they do, they wonder why they don’t see each other so often. Later, when he moved to the Philadelphia suburbs, I followed, though for reasons that had nothing to do with wanting to live near each other.
Greg told me once that he got some of his best ideas for his writing while he was in the shower, and that he had attached a small whiteboard, with a marking pen, to the wall of his shower stall so that he could capture any fleeting notion before it went down the metaphorical drain.
I retold this anecdote in my novelwriting classes at Penn as part of a larger talk about the getting of ideas. I also included a quote I got from Atlantic City entrepreneur Reese Palley, who said ideas were like seeds–most of them don’t sprout and bare fruit, but a few do. “Nature is very wasteful,” he said.
Nature seems to be somewhat wasteful, in that there are more ideas than are written down, more writing that doesn’t get past the first page, more stories that are finished than published, more writers whom you’ve never heard of, than the few you have.
This morning I was in the shower and…I got an idea.
I just wrote it down.