I had the oddest thing happen to me.
I’ve had the idea for a story floating around for years and years. Longer than I really remember. It was a children’s story, something like 13 Clocks or The Phantom Tollbooth, but also different. It involved a truly atrocious pun that got my wrist slapped by Mike when I told it to him. But the idea was fun. While I never let it go, I never wrote on it either. I just couldn’t get the hero started down the road. The only things I could think of had been done before, and they didn’t quite fit anyway. So I let it alone in the dark.
And while driving to work, I realized how my hero got involved in the story. And as soon as I realized what happened to him, the story changed. The pun vanished, the hero grew up, the whole plot mutated into something completely different.
It was such an intense experience that I actually forgot I was driving to the bus depot and drove all the way downtown instead. I’ve never felt anything like it. It was insight, not invention, and both terrifying and exhilarating. I don’t yet dare write any of it down, it feels rather like if I do, I am stepping off the edge of the world.