11/26/2006

Writer's Clog - Flushing Ideas Onto Paper

It's time to start thinking about the next book. Actually, it's past time...and I have zilch, zero, zip, nada in my brain. I mean, sure, I have little germs of ideas and snatches of settings or characters, but no bones to hang it on. It makes me long for the old days when the boys were young and they'd say..."Tell us a story!"

I'd say, "What do you want to be in this story?"

They'd rattle off about two dozen odd events, characters or monsters and I'd be off an running. We had an ongoing story that was so popular the cousins still ask for the next chapter whenever they visit. It was a long adventure story chronicling the misadventures of a poor, Irish lad who must leave his widowed mother and family behind to seek his fortune. The Potato Famine has killed their father and left them without any hope of survival unless Tom Henry Liam O' Shaunnesy can find a job and send money back to Ireland.

This is how he becomes the cabin boy on a pirate ship and eventually, over time, the ship's captain.

Of course, I can't remember every detail and I never wrote the tales down, so that's one book lost to follow-up. Besides, once I've told a tale, there's no point in telling it again. I'd only bore myself.

So I rattle around the house knowing that somewhere there is a small town on a lake, with a diner, and a woman about my age facing down the back 40 of her life and realizing the nest is empty and it's time for re-invention. I know there is an old Victorian house in need of repair, an old lady who says, "Life ain't hard, honey. You make it hard!" I think she is in the early stages of Alzheimers. I know there's a diner in the tiny downtown area. I know the town has somehow been overlooked in the recent rush for land development on anything near water. It was once a resort area but that was in the 40s. I think there is a man in this town who might be perfect for the main character, if indeed romance is what she's wanting. Course, she can't have that until she untangles some of her own knots.

I toy with the idea that the main character's father is dying and wants to return "home" to this small town. I think it could be a book about letting go and starting over. But all I hear in my head is my agent's voice asking, "Where's the conflict?" Where is that something special that gets it all moving?

I think I have the fire laid...I just need a match to set it all off...

Anybody out there got a light?

Argh! The writer's "life!" You spent most of your time creatively constipated, waiting for the writerly Milk of Magnesia to take effect!

When I wrote my first book I had no idea I was supposed to have thought it all through. I had a main character, a love interest, a dead body and a hairless chihuahua. I got out a sheet of notebook paper and wrote down 23 bad things that could happen to an exotic dancer and her chihuahua- one per line. I saved the last 3 lines to wrap it all up into a credible mystery plot.

Now how or why I thought this would work is the real mystery, but hey, it did. But with each book, they raise the bar...as well they should, given that inauspicious beginning! Now I feel like I'm hogtied with "Shoulds" and "Musts."

It's like the scene in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" where Robert Redford is trying to get hired to guard an old man and I think a payroll as they make their way from Point A to the bank. The old man has Redford shoot at a target but won't let him add any of his customary flourish as he does so. Finally Redford's character says, "Can I move?" When the old man nods yes, Redford shoots the fool out of the target because he is finally free to move.

Well, I can't move. Not yet.

I would put a suggestion box here...but I'm technologically challenged. Any and all ideas, wishes and thoughts will be greatly appreciated!

2 comments:

Tammy said...

I have a story idea and would love to work with you on it. It involves a mystery and quilting and funny women (quilters are almost always funny) but, I'm not a writer, I'm a quilter - or, as my munchkins call me, a quilt designing computer geek! Email me, I'll throw the bone out to ya and we'll see if it's worth developing!

Billy Jones said...

You could do a story about an escentric 50 year old former biker/trucker turned poet/novelist who flys around town dressed as Santa (see video) while dreaming about writing the next bestseller and being surrounded by beautiful women.

Or if you'd like I have an interesting idea for a joint project that's neither poetry or novel but is a book your readers would really love and at only 138 short pages would be easy to write.