"One becomes a writer because the ideas keep coming to you, whether you want them or not."
- Peter David

Seems to be the case. Or you're in awkward situations with people, and you know hilarious stories will be a natural byproduct. Or you have these incredibly detailed dreams and have to write everything down as soon as you wake up.

For me, ideas for stories ebb and flow. Sometimes I'll have a bizarre experience like the one that inspired "Scuttle" and the story will pretty much write itself. Other times I'll have this amazing dream where the setting and the mood are all perfectly established—but I just can't get it right on paper.

Recently, my wife and I were reading under a tree at Shelter Island on a balmy Saturday afternoon when we were accosted by an over-friendly octogenarian.

"What're you reading?" he asked. "Mysteries? School books?" (We both liked that last one, younglings that we are.)

"You should read my nephew's novels. John Lutz—he's written all kinds of stuff. There's this one where a guy goes to pick up his girlfriend on a date. And he's got this box—but there aren't any flowers in the box. Just a saw." Octogenarian grins. "He cuts her up into pieces and stacks them in the bathtub. Then he mounts her head on the faucet." Octogenarian chuckles, ambles away. "Well, I'll let you get back to your reading."

Definitely a story there.

I've always been blessed/cursed with vivid dreams, and I'm only now starting to write down everything I experience in them. The story-worthy stuff, anyway. But a persistent, irrational fear I have is that someday my well of ideas will run dry, ebbing away into oblivion.

I guess I should start hanging out at Shelter Island more often.
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