When I started a story back in the summer of 2012, it was because one incident at the local Kroger inspired it. I remember the event; I remember coming home and furiously pounding on the keyboard for a few moments to get out a beginning; I remember going back and filling in some details and then finding a groove for a few weeks.
I eventually started other book ideas, when I wasn't sure where the story should go, but I'd come back to it from time to time. Piece by piece things started coming together and a story about Sadie, Theo, and Andrew began to develop.
A month or two ago, I had point A and point B, but I still wasn't sure exactly how the novel was going to get from point A to point B. But I knew that I wanted to find out. I challenged myself to get done with a draft. It didn't have to be a spectacular one, but it needed to be done. And so I did. I put forth a huge effort and sat, tirelessly, as the words began to flow. And a very strange thing happened. Actually, it isn't so strange. It's the same thing that occurs every time I sit and write: a story develops that I didn't know was there. As if my characters know what they are going to do and they plan on surprising me.
The surprise this time is that one of my characters has ALS. I won't say what happens or who it is, but because of the severity of the disease, the disease itself actually becomes a character in the story to some degree. It effects all persons of the family and each person must make adjustments and respond. When I sat down yesterday to do some tweaking of the novel, I realized that without doing a lot of research on ALS, I'd never be able to tell the entire story, the right story.
So my mission has been defined. In order to get that story I want, I need to make sure I get the facts correct. As a scientist, I would be doing an injustice if I didn't dig deep and find out the current and most trustworthy information, and as a writer, I wouldn't be credible without doing so. It will be a long and daunting process, gathering information from patients, caretakers, physicians and the like, but I am so excited, I can't stand it. I found myself eagerly wanting to begin yesterday, but realizing that I had to get some help, first. Hence, a Facebook plea and some great leads.
The novel won't be done for a quite a while, now, but in the end, I think it will be a much richer, far more profound account than I ever anticipated at the beginning. At least, I can hope.
The moral of this story? Always keep your eye open for story ideas. They have the possibility of morphing into something completely unexpected.