Believe it or not, I got the idea for this novel on a trip to Wal-Mart! I was doing some routine weekly shopping, and while driving to the store I was thinking about how I should find a new idea for a novel, and how there is no shortage of plot ideas out there. There are billions and billions of ideas everywhere; you can get one from literally any source: a person you see, a snippet of conversation you overhear, something you read about in the news, etc., etc. I had recently come up with a new process for writing novels and wanted to try it out, and felt I needed a fresh new idea to use in doing that.
When I came out of the Wal-Mart after doing my shopping, I pushed the cart to my car, still thinking about finding a new idea for a novel. I loaded the trunk and then grabbed hold of the shopping cart and began to push it toward one of those places where you drop off carts in parking lots (I hate it when people leave carts in the parking spaces!). I decided to take a quick moment to take in what I was experiencing -- a very "Zen" thing to do -- and in about one second I sampled all of my senses. I took it all in and it made a lasting impression. I still remember that one second very clearly.
It was a little hot, around 80 degrees, the last hot day of the year, end of September, beginning of October. The sun was shining brightly, so brightly that I was squinting because of it after coming out of the store. I felt myself about to break out in a sweat from the exertion of pushing the cart in the hot sunlight. The air was warm and dry. My throat was dry. I breathed in and felt the warm air run through my sinuses, down my throat. I was pushing something, a load, a burden.
I took these perceptions and stripped away the parking lot, the cars, the cart itself, the freeway nearby, the modern world altogether. I became a character, sensing these things....
I became a man, about 30, with long dark hair and big, scruffy beard, wearing multiple layers of clothing, all of it tattered. I was walking through a dry, barren landscape. The countryside was full of hills. I was carrying something, a burden. The sun was bright, it hurt my eyes. I was dry, parched. I was alone. If I ran into people, they would be afraid of me, and me of them. I was a stranger in a strange land.
That was my original image, my original idea. Out of that, with some modifications and lots of additions, developed my new novel, which will run 120,000 words when finished!