How does one choose what to write about? Think about it. The page sitting there. Empty.
In “The Darling” by Anton Chekhov, he writes about a woman who has no opinion. She’s a screen for the men in her life to project themselves upon. When she’s left alone, she empties out and her life takes on a pervasive blankness, a page ready to be filled. From what little research I’ve done, Chekhov wrote this story to illustrate a type of woman he didn’t like. How is he able to capture that, and does it work? Olenka is a mix between cheerful good-natured expression, and sad formless identity. When she’s happy, it’s infectious, and other people are happy. Chekhov’s story is ridiculous, but it touches on a truth. How do we act around people that seem to overflow with joy and goodwill? Do we bath in those feelings and deride them in private? Olenka is loving and loved, but also annoys with her cloying sweetness.
I’d like to read more about where this idea came from, or what inspired Chekhov to write this story. Inspiration and stories can come from anywhere. Conversations overheard in line at the grocery, an article you flicked past, a dream, an argument with a fried, or a forced writing exercise. What’s an idea you have, and where did it begin?