I owe a huge thank you to Micki for sending me to the Letters of Note site and this quote from Theodore Sturgeon about Robert Heinlein:
“I went into a horrible dry spell one time. It was a desperate dry spell and an awful lot depended on me getting writing again. Finally, I wrote to Bob Heinlein. I told him my troubles; that I couldn’t write—perhaps it was that I had no ideas in my head that would strike a story. By return airmail—I don’t know how he did it—I got back 26 story ideas. Some of them ran for a page and a half; one or two of them were a line or two. I mean, there were story ideas that some writers would give their left ear for. Some of them were merely suggestions; just little hints, things that will spark a writer like, ‘Ghost of a little cat patting around eternity looking for a familiar lap to sit in.’
This mechanical, chrome-plated Heinlein has a great deal of heart. I had told him my writing troubles, but I hadn’t told him of any other troubles; however, clipped to the stack of story ideas was a check for a hundred dollars with a little scribbled note, ‘I have a suspicion your credit is bent.’
It is very difficult for words like ‘thank you’ to handle a man that can do a thing like that.”
The Letters of Note site has the entire letter and it is amazing. Then look around because the site is full of great letters (and therefore great story ideas). Another one I loved: “To My Old Master,” a letter from a freed man to his old master who wants him to come back and work for him again. Really, the whole site is a treasure trove for writers. Also, time sink. But so worth it.
Edited to add: And then Micki sent me a link to this one and made me cry: Stephen Fry on depression. What a lovely man he must be.