I've spent most of the day going through all the story beginnings I've accumulated in years of writing. They have come from a wide range of sources: journal entries, writing exercises, workshops, writing marathons. They are snippets written in hospital waiting rooms, at my writing group, on retreats, while waiting for the dentist, physiotherapist, doctor, on buses and trains, in cars, under trees on freezing winter mornings, on baking beach sand in summer, in churchyards, on river banks and snuggled into bed during a winter storm.
There are hundreds all filed away for later. Many of their companions have already morphed into completed stories and, in their time, so will these. They come from a variety of triggers. An idea or a word, something from the news, a new scientific discovery, an overheard fragment of conversation or something as simple as my cat hiding (unsuccessfully) behind a blade of grass.
The best though is the writing marathon. A phrase, a sentence or a word chosen at random sends me off into places I'd never have come to without it. Sometimes these beginnings seem to have no future and I file them away for days when inspiration is running low but others nag at me and I find myself thinking, planning and writing. And a new story is born.