Sunday, October 21, 2012

Yard Sale? Blinders?

      My family and friends have come to understand that anything they say or do could well come back to haunt them from the pages of a book or magazine, so much so they have turned to look me dead in the eye and say, "Vegas-okay? Never write about this." Of course that never works, their worst fear is when I say "yep, that goes in the folder." Because they of these days- they will be the star of a chapter somewhere.
     This infamous folder is a virtual Pandora's Box and once clicked, little icons tear across the computer screen in neat lines that a general would be proud of, at least until they start screaming for attention. "Me! Over here-Pick me! Hey writer woman- I'm the one." Some of these little thumbnail shots need smell-a-vision, like the plate of Aunt Eleanor's lemon drop cookies, or the pile of smoldering fall leaves, sending curls of smoke up to wrap around the naked branches, or the tang of salt air blowing in off a stormy beach.
   Others are snapshots of my history that calls out to me. Like the picture of a great great grandmother who spent months out running soldiers bent on taking her back to a community that would no longer accept her, or the one who ran a band of thieves from her drawing room, or the woman who bravely stepped on board a ship bound for the U.S., even though she was terrified of anything more than knee deep water, or the grandma who ran moonshine through pitch black nights on roads that twisted and turned so much it made snakes jealous- just so she could afford medicine. The women filled many slots, but the men were no slouches- there's a shot of my dad and an uncle taken by someone who wanted to show the horrors of the concentration camp they had just liberated, and one of him and a friend standing in our mostly empty in-ground pool giving a gator the stare down as they tried to explain the eviction notice he was getting. There's pictures of my brothers in military uniforms before they went off to wars that no one wanted.
    Album covers have a whole section, a line of a song blaring from my car radio found the magic spot in my head and by the time the singer was finished, I had woven it into a tapestry of characters and gone to places the artist probably never envisioned. And another row or three is things that came from a simple phrase, like "once in a blue moon."
   Yesterday a writer friend called from the beach outside the back door of her Key West home (tough life yeah?) lamenting her lack of ideas. I always look at people who say "I don't know what to write, I have no ideas" as if they suddenly grew multiple heads or a giant eyeball just popped out of the end of their nose- how can they not have ideas?
    Maybe I should hold a weird version of a yard sale and pawn some of my notions off on my challenged friends...or wear blinders as I go about my day? Maybe I just need to add a new file labeled "more bright ideas."


Simone Anderson said...

First add the "more bright ideas" folder, then try to explain where your ideas come from. Or if it's writers block, help them find ways to unstick. I love playing "what if" with my friends. My non-writing friends will play along occasionally, which is always fun and interesting.

Kelsey St. James said...

LOL I could totally use a spare idea. I have lots of my own, but often when I sit down to put them into a plot I get stuck. But if someone tells me a plot idea I can usually take off and write my own version of their plot. It doesn't make any sense, I know. :) But yeah... NaNoWriMo starts in a few days and I'm still plotless. :p