So where do ideas come from? I don’t think that is the question. Ideas are everywhere. All you have to do is get out of your home, get off your phone and look at what’s going on around you. Keep a notebook with you and write things down. I find there are way more ideas than time to develop them. What I wonder about is all the stuff that comes after the idea. Suddenly you are writing about people that never existed that you sometimes put in real places and sometimes made up places. The book I’m writing now takes place on Block Island. As I write I need to step inside the world I’m creating. I have to feel the air, smell the air, touch the world my characters are living in. That means reading about the place, gathering facts, maps, histories and anything else that might matter. I make a lot of notes, flag pages in books and basically devote a shelf in the library to all the topics involved in the story I’m writing.
On another level I have to feel the feelings my characters are dealing with. That means imagining what an event in their life must feellike, emotionally. I find that you can get kind of lost in this and it makes stopping the writing difficult. You always stop for the day thinking tomorrow I can get right back to where I was today but it doesn’t work like that. Every day there is a process I have to go through to get back there and continue writing. It’s kind of like watching a movie and having to hit pause and you have to wait a day to go back to it. Below is a piece of the current book I’m working on. Robin Randle is living on Block Island and this is the scene where she meets someone who yet unexpected seems important to her.
The question as I see it is how do I imagine all this? Where does it come from? How is it this scene comes into my head like I’mwatching a movie and just writing it down. I read so much about searching for ideas for stories that will fill a niche market. You want to write stuff that sells right? I get it. I did that with movies for years. I don’t disagree with that idea as a way to make a living but there is something else. I believe that sometimes you must write the things that dwell in your heart. Robin comes from a dark place inside of me but she represents hope in my heart. Hope that we can learn to forgive ourselves for all we’ve done in our lives. I can’t bend her around to meet some market expectation. I know that means the audience for her stories might be limited but I don’t care. The stories are important and I fear so many important stories have been lost because rejection and criticism killed the spirit inside the writer. No one wanted to let that writer’s heart sing.
So where does all this stuff come from? I don’t know any more than the next guy but if I were to venture a guess, if what you’re writing is realto you then it comes from that song you carry in your heart. Let it sing.
Legends of the End
So back to that chilly spring morning. It was a Saturday, so I was off work for the day. I was thinking of taking the old moped I’d bought from one of the rental shops on the island and going over to the Block Island Historical Society. I know, an odd place for a 16 year old to go spend her free time but I was on a search and I knew they must have something worth seeking. A small clue to a greater source of information. One of the large ferries that carries cars and trucks along with people was just docking at one of the Old Harbor docks. These docks were literally across Water Street from my front door. Water Street was like a paved ribbon separating the shops, hotels and restaurants from the water of Old Harbor. There was a parking lot kind of space for all the cars, trucks and people to exit the ships. I walked across the street and stood looking at the stream of cars and trucks as they rolled slowly from the bowels of the ship. When they were finished the people started off the ferry. I looked away thinking I should go then turned back and noticed a boy walking off the ship carrying a suitcase. He was by himself. He looked to be about my age and was coming right towards me. There was something about him. Danger maybe. Mystery for sure. He walked past me without a look. I felt slighted. I thought at least my wild deep red hair should have been worth a peek. I shrugged and turned to see him entering my boarding house. I forgot about the Historical Society and pushed my way through the other visitors who’d exited the ferry and were now fanning out along Water Street. I crossed the street and ran up the steep stairs leading up to the front door of my boarding house. Pushing the paint cracked white front door open I ran into the dark lobby then came to an abrupt stop. Old wood paneling covered the walls. It was stained a dark brown offset by a tall ceiling covered in tin but faded now with aging off-white paint that was peeling in places revealing the aged tin underneath. A brass insert was in the wall to my left that contained the mailboxes for each room in the house. Directly to my right was a front desk that was set back about 5 feet from the front hall I was standing it. Standing there was the boy I was looking for. He was tall, his hair blond and cut in a conserving style. I thought he was a handsome guy then tried to wipe that thought from my head as he looked my way. Then Mary Higgins opened the door of her office. It was just to the left of the front desk where this boy was standing. He looked away from me. She hugged him and was saying how happy she was he was coming to stay on the island for the summer. I thought, great. She called him Alexander. That sounded like he a funny name for a kid. But he wasn’t really a kid. My thoughts wandered then I realized I’d heard my name being called. It was Mrs. Higgins, “Robin, would you please come over here?” I walked over to the pair. I couldn’t believe this. She said, “This is my nephew, Alexander Nobel.” She turned toward the boy, “Alexander this is one of my tenets, Robin Randle. She just happens to live in the room directly across from where you will be staying this summer. You two are even the same age.”
He flashed a weak smile unsure of meeting a girl or just unsure of meeting me. I found myself struck by his looks. He wasn’t a kid for sure. He was well on his way to manhood. It made me feel ugly. I noticed he’d reached out his hand toward me, so I took it and used my firmest grip. We shook and as we did, I felt a strange tingling like warmth that seemed to seep from his hand into me. I let go. He probably stood almost six feet tall and looked well built, so he definitely dwarfed me. He had light blond hair with wonderfully sharp blue eyes. I wondered why I cared. He said, “It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Randle.”
I smiled one of my strong smiles and laughed inside at being called miss. I said, “Feelings the same. If I can help in any way just knock.” Mrs. Higgins looked a bit unsure of this introduction. I could see my reputation for being the odd one on the island pass across her face.
Mrs. Higgins looked down at her hands then at her watch. She asked, “Robin can you do me a favor and show Mr. Nobel to his room? It’s 219.”
I replied, “Sure Mrs. Higgins. Be glad too. Come on Alex. It’s up one flight and in the middle of the hallway.” He picked up his suitcase and tried to follow me as I bound up the stairs. I stopped at the top waiting for him to catch up. Once he arrived suitcase in hand, I found I was facing him. Not happening. I looked away and pointed toward his room, “First door on the left. Numbers are on the doors. You’re lucky. You have an ocean view. Mine is right across from yours. Number 220.” I pointed to the number plate on my door. I wasn’t sure he’d noticed. He just started toward his door. I stood at the top of the stairs unsure of what I should do next. He slid his key into his door knob and turned the key opening the door. He looked back at me and smiled a bit nicer smile.
He said, “Miss Randle, thank you for showing me to my room.”
I replied, “Not a problem Alex. Fire escapes are at both ends of the halls. If you like sitting on rooftops go up to the top floor and open the door at the head of the stairs. It’s always unlocked. I hang out up there some. No rooms on the top floor just a small shed. I don’t think it’s ever been used.”
He nodded, “Sounds cool. I’ll check it out.” He started into his room.
I said, “Oh…” He stopped and looked back at me. “It’s just Robin. I’m not ready to be a miss.” He smiled again and nodded his understanding. Then he was gone. I stood there for a moment. Something was different inside of me. Something I hadn’t felt only moments before. It was like that thrill you get when you think of doing something that’s really fun. Maybe more like the thought of someone you liked but haven’t seen for a long time. I knew that feeling. In reality I wasn’t 16 years old nor a human girl. There was my one true love. She was my mate for all time and I was separated from her. My longing for her breath, her touch her smell was something I struggled to control. I stood confused. Who was this guy? I shook my head and decided the Historical Society was a good plan after all.