“The process of creating art cannot be understood, cannot be explained in rational or scientific terms.” -- Joyce Carol Oates in “Connecting the unique & universal” [The Writer, August 2009]Friends and relatives often ask me where I come up with the ideas for my stories. By their tone of voice, I know they really want to know where the bizarre ideas for stories came from. I give them a glib response about how a headline sparked an idea, or maybe it was a writing prompt that was the seed for the story. Both statements are true, in a way. The article or prompt got me started writing something. But I didn’t say to myself, “I’m going to write a weird story, or a love story, or a horror story, or a story to make Marsha laugh.” I rarely know what the real story is until I finish it. Ms. Oates states in her article that she thinks a novel through before she writes anything and knows how the story ends from the start. If I think about a story before I start writing, it’s to flesh out the characters, or to try and figure out what the story is about. Often, the latter changes on the way to the final sentence, especially during later rewrites. How or why does this happen, you ask? I have no idea.