I'm slowly, almost preternaturally slowly, climbing back on the bicycle. It's been a month since a finished BOOKEND and started querying. I know I have to start writing again, everyone's said so.
But I had a problem. I've got a digital drawer full of ideas to work on and none of them were doing it for me. One seemed a little forced - did those mermaids really belong there, or was I just (pun intended) fishing? Another idea was fine, just completely uninspiring. If the author is uninspired, how in blazes can anyone else be into it? That idea also went back into the file. Revise the first book I wrote? Meh. Start on the second book in the BOOKEND universe? That was much more exciting a prospect, but I didn't feel ready to go back into that world yet.
I puzzled and poured over these ideas as the weeks passed. I got rejections and the only antidote to those poison pills is sending more queries and WORKING. So I was pressuring myself to come up with something I wanted to write.
And like all good things, it came to me in the night. I'm not a great sleeper at the best of times, and I often lie in bed thinking diaphanous thoughts, just letting them drift through and not bothering much about if them make sense. I swear on a stack of Elements of Style, that's how Mop entered my head. I could see her, easily, in my mind's eye. And I knew where she lived. I'm talking, I could walk with her down the halls of her apartment building, see the view out her window. I knew her mother and her mother's demons. And I knew what Mop could do. She can find things. Anything. She's a finder. She makes money for her and her mom by finding lost things for her neighbors, anything from engagement rings to lost kittens. But there are dangerous lost things that should stay lost. And Mop can't help what she is, she finds things, no matter if they want to be found.
I got my arse out of bed and wrote pages and pages of back story - just trying to flesh out who Mop is and what her situation is. I haven't been as excited about a story since I started writing BookEnd. That's when I knew I had the right one.
Now I'm almost ready to start writing Chapter 1. I just need to figure out the spark - the inciting incident.
How do you know when you've found the right idea to work on?