Two things writers hear a lot are: 1) "Where do you get your ideas?" and 2) "I have a great idea for a story. All you have to do is write it and we'll split the money fifty-fifty."
The answers to which are, 1) "I make them up." and 2) "Ideas are easy. Writing them up is hard work."
We also frequently hear unpublished writers complain that they just don't have any ideas. So, here for those of you who'd like an idea for a story is one I came up with this week and feel too lazy to write up:
"Community of Mind"
A psychiatrist checks in on a patient who had a neural stent implanted in her brain. This allows him to monitor her mental health from afar, look in on her periodically, and offer useful advice. This time, however, he discovers that she's connected her stent to the internet and shared input with a listserv of people interested in helping her run her mind. So her head is full of contradictory voices working in a loosely hierarchic cooperative manner.
(You'll have to read a few books on how the mind operates first. To all the obvious candidates I'd threw in When Rabbit Howls by Truddi Chase, the autobiography of a woman with multiple personality disorder.)
Some of the listserv personalities come and go. Others stay almost full-time because they are bedridden or for other reasons have nothing better to do. Most are hostile to the doctor, whom they see as trying to "cure" a woman great-spirited enough to share her own mind with them.
The doctor is genuinely trying to help her patient, but is hampered by the fact that professional ethics prevent her from discussing the case with the listservers. She is also distressed by the fact that her patient appears to be hiding from her.
Eventually, the doctor comes to realize that the woman's personalities (or voices; I'm oversimplifying here) are no longer in her head. She has replaced them with outsourced voices. In frustration, the doctor reveals that her patient (whom she now considers dead) was being treated for depression. She has found a way of committing suicide without being detected.
The community, still in her mind, decide that the best way to honor their great-souled host is to continue as they are, leading her life for her, knowing that is how she would have wanted it.
Structurally, this will be a tricky story. You'll want to establish two separate listservers as chief voices for the community. You'll need to make their voices distinctive, as well as the doctor's. And you'll need to come up with a scientifically plausible way for the original personality/ies to dissolve into nonexistence. But it can be done. I could do it myself if I didn't have many other things on my plate.
Above: Another place science fiction writers get their ideas from. Photo courtesy of NASA.