Conceptions. Where the ideas come from.

Conception. Definition:

  1. The action of conceiving a child or of one being conceived.

  2. The forming or devising of a plan or an idea.


It is 19 years since I ‘conceived’ on 12th April 1998 at around midday. The event took place in an IVF  clinic and there was little romance involved, even though the resulting son brings me more joy than anyone else. Other people conceived in the years while we waited. Events that were completely ‘other’ when compared with our own experiences. Moments of something inspirational. Many people consider IVF to be the miracle, but medication, scans, daily injections and miserable side effects impact on the magic that other people see. To me the miracle is that there are so many made-in-bed babies. That such miracles are spontaneous, subject to chance and often accidental.
As a writer the conception of an idea can bring a lovely spontaneity… a moment of epiphany or inspiration. An idea can come flapping through the window. Something full of intensity and colour. A made-in-bed baby of the writing world. At other times that conception can be a painful and desperate process. Less organic and more of a creative endeavour to make and create. As a student studying creative writing I remember a session in 2006 at the University of Kent. It was a seminar at the beginning of a Book Project. We were encouraged to draw up a list of the things that interest us and capture our imaginations. Writing that we would want to read that fosters interest and motivates research. Similar writing exercises can be found in Ready, Set, Novel!, a Writer’s Workbook.

That brings me to NaNoWriMo. The National Novel Writing Month folk aim at 50,000 words in a month. They talk about ‘pansters’ and ‘planners’. Pansters are the ones who haven’t planned, and plonk their bottoms on the chair and start writing, hoping that inspiration will chug along and join in. Planners take a more considered approach. To me Pansters are the made-in-bed baby folk of the writing world. The ones where the condom broke or they forget to take the pill. The Planners are the IVF parents. Everything planned and full of forethought. But it doesn’t really matter, does it? X and Y get together. An idea is injected into a place where it can grow. The end result is the same and I don’t think that it matters how these conceptions come to fruition. A baby is a baby. A piece of writing is a piece of writing. Every Mum’s heart lifts as you tell her how beautiful her baby is. How the baby looks like Daddy, but will probably look like Mummy by tomorrow because they change so quickly. Every writer’s heart smiles when someone ‘gets it’ and understands what they are trying to do. Our writing, be it poem, song, play or novel carries something of us with it whether it lies in a box under the bed or has the maturity to make its way into the world.

You might want to write in a journal, or write a large piece of fiction in the same way that someone pieces a quilt with painstaking stitches while not overly worried about the result, but enjoying the pleasures of the process. Or if you are lucky and rare you might be one of those special individuals who write like a dream, making something shiney and bright and beautiful. That piece of writing is something precious. There are years when you can rewrite, edit and redraft, but at the very beginning hold that longed for embryo close under your heart and give yourself to the pleasure of simply loving it.


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