My favorite Military Joke:
Officer: All right, soldier. Suppose an enemy sub surfaced and ran aground on that beach over there, and suppose she offloaded 50 enemy troops. What would you do?
Soldier: Sir, I'd blow 'em off the sand with concentrated mortar fire, sir.
Officer: Where would you get the mortars?
Soldier: Same place you got the sub, sir.
And this, my friend, is the essence of why doing what I do is so much fun. Because I have that endless ammo dump, that boundless supply depot, that never-empty weapons locker to draw upon. I can have anything that exists, and a few things that don't. Yet, anyway.
And not just things, but people. My characters can be anyone who exists, or that I wish existed. If I can't find the right one, I can make them up. Which reminds me of another joke, this an old one from Alfred Hitchcock. The iconic filmmaker, apparently frustrated with a temperamental actor, said "Walt Disney has the best casting; if he doesn't like an actor, he just tears him up." I have the same advantage. If somebody's not working out, well, that's what the delete key is for. And once you get over that new writer problem (and unfortunately some never do) of thinking your every word is gold, you know how to use it. And should.
People often ask me (and every writer, I think) where I get my ideas. I joke that I have them in a jar on my desk. (Which is a derivative of Stephen King's statement that he has the brain of a small boy. It's right there in a jar on his desk.) But in actual fact, those ideas also come from one of those endless supply lines. My problem is never lack of ideas, only lack of time to work on them.
Sometimes, there's only a bit of an idea. A kernel that perks up that part of my mind that is drawn to things, thinking "There's a story in that..." But sometimes it isn't visible yet. So it gets tossed into that big pot on the back burner of my brain, where it floats around and gets boiled down to the bones, (wow, one mention of Stephen King and I'm talking about boiled bones!) maybe meets up with some other kernel and they decide to work together. And then they bubble up to the top, ready to be next in line. This is a process that can take hours...or years. I'm just polishing a book of the heart that has been over ten years from initial idea to completion. It bears little resemblance to that first idea, it changed a lot over the years, becoming not what I thought it would be, but something I love even more.
So if you're a writer, you have one of the biggest toyboxes in the world. It's all yours to play with. But you have to figure out how all the Legos fit. If you're a reader, you get to marvel at how it all comes together. And if you're both, you know the special pleasure of finding a story so compelling that you are able to drown, at least temporarily, the writer and become once more solely a reader, caught up in the wonder of a world that never existed before a writer opened their toybox—or their arsenal—and built it for you.