People often ask writers “where do you get your ideas?” And writers reply with all sorts of things, ranging from silly answers (through a mail-order catalog) to the vague (they’re all around us, can’t you see them?).
The truth is, we see and hear the same things you do, even share many of the same experiences. Unlike the non-writing public, all those thoughts, sights, sounds, smells, and experiences tumble around like so many snap-together building blocks in a child’s toybox, frequently shattering into smaller and smaller component bricks, some colored with the shades of sunset and new leaves and parrots, while others carry the sound of the car horn honking outside or a baby’s cry or a cash register drawer slamming. Storytellers carry these buckets of bricks around, dumping details into them, stirring them up, and occasionally reaching down into the bucket and grabbing an idea, only to find out that somewhere along the way, it’s hooked up with another idea or two or three, none of which originally had anything to do with each other. This handful of random ideas may immediately suggest the story that connects them, or we may sit and stare at them until a picture begins to form of the events that tie these ideas together. And so a story is born.
Virtual Oracle is such a story. born of two phrases (“the end of the world as you know it” and “elephants all the way down”), a memory (the cover of Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” in which a pair of children are peering over the broken edge of the world), and a pocketful of business cards. I’m sure there were other components that were factors in the writing of the story, but those are the ones that stand out in my mind as the key catalysts.
It’s a little bit literary, a little bit mystical. I like it a lot, and I hope you do, too.
a short story by Leigh Saunders
When Elizabeth crashed the cocktail party, she had no idea that her entire world was about to come crashing down around her…
Tags: short stories