“A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” — Eugene Ionesco
As I was teeing up my golf ball one day, I noticed the name on the ball was Crystal. Aha, I thought. I know the perfect name for my character. She’ll be called Pearl. Stay with me. I don’t always do straight line thinking. Crystal reminded me of a pearl, which is a perfect name for the character in my historical short story. This demonstrates that I think about writing while in the midst of other activities.
When I first met my future in-laws, I was fascinated by the patriarch’s extensive stamp collection, his brother-in-law’s love of fishing from his motor boat on the lake, the small town they lived in, and the scary idea that most of the people knew each other and all their juicy gossip. In my mind, those details created a convoluted family murder mystery waiting to be written. I’m still working on that one.
As I was reading Claire Murray’s February 21st blog, “Finding Something to Write About,” I started thinking about how I find ideas for my stories. When I sit in a waiting room, on a plane, or in a restaurant, I sometimes overhear conversations that tweak my interest. I may discover a plot idea, an interesting scenario, an intriguing title, or see a person I feel would make a fascinating character.
Reading books or magazine articles sometimes gives me ideas. Because I also recognize some of the TV stories that are “ripped from the headlines,” I’ve started paying more attention to the news. Reading newspapers or listening to the news also gives me the opportunity to do a “what if” story. Tim Franklin’s February 27th blog addresses the “What if?” in a fascinating take on the demise of the dinosaurs.
My cousins-in-law were going through their aunt’s belongings helping her decide what should be given to family members, sold at auction, donated to the local historical society, or trashed. I was intrigued by the contents of an old, unwanted notebook. The cousins gave it to me. That notebook provided the plot for “Pearl’s Legacy,” which I’m preparing for a short story contest.
I keep a supply of notebooks, pens, and pencils in every room in the house and notebooks in various sizes to fit my purses, bags, and suitcases to catch any fleeting ideas before they escape my grasp. My handy, idea filled notebooks help jump start my writing long before I face that intimidating blank screen. Without my notebooks, I think I’d still be staring at a sea of white space without a clue of what I should write about.