Untrue: they start as ideas. The ideas of people, of situations, of places; but mostly of people.
Then notes. Scribblings. Jottings in a file, whether on paper or in the computer, but they lie there, flat, still, unbreathing, inanimate.
One day the whisper comes: It's me. Unless they're hopelessly pedantic, in which case I'll hear It is I.
The process of writing, or of exorcism: it's often debatable which. They hover, impalpable, barely audible at first, and then their voices take on tone, rhythm, melody, phrasing. It's me. It's me. Listen to me. I must tell you about what happened.
They won't be denied, these voices: hungry as ghosts they flock, suckling at pens, dancing on keyboards, rustling paper. Hear me, they say. Many years ago, long before I came to be, a great pestilence swept the land.... Or My brother and I were close as could be, but not by choice. Despite the vagaries of fortune, our fates were interlocked.
And so I write, appeasing them as best I can. They chide and chitter, mild only when I am complaisant and devote time to them; if I turn to assuage another voice's urgency, the rest will fret and growl and rebuke me for my neglect. I am the confessor of thousands with their endless sins, their crimes both petty and appalling; the confidant of those who have no other ears in which to whisper their wicked delights; the mother who must bear all for her progeny's sake.
It's no efficacious ritual, this exorcism of tales. Sometimes they fall silent a while, and then, perhaps years later, I'll hear a familiar whisper: When I returned from Trebizond, stained with the dust of countless miles, I found that things had changed indeed... Though they may sojourn afar, they always return to resume their whisperings. They never truly leave.
Tenet insanabile multos scribendi cacoethes et aegro in corde senescit. - Juvenal