Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Oh, Ideas, Where Art Thou?

My daughter gets me :-)
Ideas are a writer's stock-in-trade.

Unfortunately, they don't show up on demand.

I have a magazine piece due today. I started it in March and have been chipping away at it ever since. I didn't procrastinate and wait until the last minute as I often do. Instead, I made notes, I created a rough skeleton draft (I don't do outlines) and used it to write my first draft.

The result was a piece that was serviceable. But it lacked a spark. If I were the reader, I'd turn the page.

Not good.

The semester ends next week. I have stacks of papers to grade and exams to create and administer. This article was supposed to be finished long before now.

Only it isn't.

Sometimes, ideas show up when we want -- or need -- them to. Other times, they're more elusive.

When we were in Ireland two weeks ago, my daughter told me she had something for me. She handed me the notebook pictured at the top of this post.

I put it to use that same night and have filled a few more pages in the intervening days.

It's these ideas that resonate. The ones that catch us unawares. They arrive when I'm falling asleep. Or in the shower. Or when I'm doing something else entirely.

The trick, it seems, is to stop forcing the issue and to give my mind a break.

So yesterday, when I got home, I gave that plan a shot. Shortly thereafter, just before I planned to sit down to write, the spark arrived -- and not a moment too soon.

And now, thanks to my daughter, I have the perfect place to jot down all these sparks.

Apparently her gift arrived at just the right time as well.

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