Friday evening I went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena - in the current chapter I'm working on, two of my characters will visit the museum and I wanted to see it for myself. Also, it's very close to my place of employment, so it was downright disgraceful that I had never walked a few blocks and paid the eight bucks to see some amazing works of art. It was wonderful. I loved the Impressionists, particularly Monet and Boudin, as well as works by Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh. I liked the modern works much more than I thought I would, though I confess I just don't "get" Kandinsky. However, now that I've seen the actual paintings rather than just a picture in a textbook, I do "get" Rembrandt. Not only was this evening valuable research, but it's got me inspired to jump into the next chapter.
Sunday we were at Knott's Berry Farm for my friend Gerry's birthday. Now, I adore Knott's Berry Farm - we went all the time when I was a kid - but for some reason while we were in line for the Log Ride I got the idea of a murder mystery set at a theme park. It's just an idea - I've found that it's not enough to have an idea for a book, you need a story and characters to bring that idea to life. I think that'll come, though, and perhaps one day it'll happen. It could be a real hoot.
There are few things more fun in writing than getting the idea for a book. What makes it so exciting is that you never know when it will happen or what will bring the idea on. (You can usually tell when it happens to me because I'll let out a Lucy Van Pelt-esque cry of "THAT'S IT!") The twofold trick is to recognize the ideas when they come, and then to come up with a story and characters that can bring that idea to life. Of course, not every idea will pan out into a story, and some stories turn out to be non-starters. But even non-starters have their value - you can put them aside and revisit them later, elements from them can be adapted into other stories, or they can simply be good old-fashioned practice with your writing. It's all good.