In my writing hero Stephen King's memoir/manual On Writing, he discusses his belief that stories are found, not made. He compares a story to a fossil in the ground, and as writers we are the archaeologists responsible for digging them up. We have our writer's toolbox to help us accomplish the project: big chunky jackhammers of plot and theme to break the bones out of the ground, and tiny brushes and picks of detail and diction, which you can use to uncover the delicate parts of whatever the fossil used to be.
I love this concept. It appeals to the part of my imagination which loves secrets and mystery. It also explains a large part of the Zone which so entrances me when I fall into it. I'm not composing, I'm finding, I'm digging something up for everyone to see. The story's already there, it's just my job to remove as much of the crud and crap caked around it as I can, so I can show it off to who might be interested. The Universe (or God, or whatever you prefer) sends us these objects, because it knows we as artists will listen and take care of them. It's our job in the grand scheme of things.
In the same vein, I also believe that if you don't take advantage of a story you've found, someone else will. Stories are in limited access, and they all need to be told. If you're not willing to write your story, someone else will. Do you think there's only one person who's thought of a love triangle between a teenage girl, a vampire, and a werewolf? Of course not... but Stephanie Meyer was the person who plucked it out of the ether and transcribed it to the best of her ability, so well that she captured the hearts and imaginations of squealing tween girls all over the world.
(Oh God... I did it... I used a Twilight reference in my blog. Grudgingly, but yes, it's still there. OK, someone can come to SC to put me out of my misery now.)
So. Back to the entry, right? *shakes it off* Once you conceive of a story, once it's pulled out of the ether and been formed (at least partially) in your mind, you're responsible for it. You're the caretaker. You're the midwife, charged with birthing it into the world. If you don't... someone else will. But it's our charge as artists and writers to DO it. Even if we only create it for ourselves. We have to. It's what we're born for.
So... about that story, set in the South, about a desperate man who needs to talk to his dead wife? And how he goes to talk to the local "witchy woman" to see if she can help him get in touch with the other side? And how the witch isn't really a witch, but is being influenced by powers darker than she'd ever imagined? Not to mention the man's latently telepathic brother-in-law, and how he's struggling with trying not to fall in love with his dead sister's best friend? Uh, yeah, that's mine. I found it. I claim it.