Writerly Wednesday–Notes to Self

Inspiration is a persnickety thing. It doesn’t come when bidden and often comes when not 20150421_132851wanted. Take for example all those time I’m brushing my teeth, taking a shower, or just sitting on the toilet, only to have an idea come to me out of the blue. It’s like a piece of me that’s been missing. Aha. There you are, I think. The solution has always been there, or it feels like it has, lurking under the surface. When the idea strikes, it’s not always possible to run to a computer and write. Sometimes, it’s an idea for much later in the story, so it isn’t time to act on it yet anyway. So, in order not to forget things, I keep a notebook in my purse that has bunches of notes about various things, as well as lists for edits and important dates I need to keep straight. Anything I may forget–and I do have a tendency to forget things–has to be written down.

Aside from my notebook, I also have sticky notes stuck to the walls around my desk, which is in a corner. Some are plot ideas or bits of dialogue, some are questions to myself. Here is a sampling:

"The smoke and noise of battle had faded away into memory and __ lay in the grass before his house with a cigar, looking up a clear blue sky."

“The smoke and noise of battle had faded away into memory and __ lay in the grass before his house with a cigar, looking up a clear blue sky.”

This one is an opening to a novella. The beginning of the sentence stayed the same, but I added the character’s name (Hamilton) and slightly changed the end of the sentence. This novella came to me pretty well-formed already. I only had to fill in the (admittedly large) gaps. One of the clearest things that just came to me, like a bolt of lightning, was this opening.

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Caroline and Augustine have guns, both shoot at Harry, who’s threatening them. Everett dives to protect the children. –Everett gets beat up by a posse. –Caroline wants to help a pregnant lady. Mr. Day beats her for complaining, H and C get into a huge argument. –Jack teaches C to row. –C collapses in tears on E’s shoulder.

These are ideas for Channing. So as not to spoil anything, I will only say that a few of these things happen in the story, and the rest did not.

"Everett: 'You just want to grow up, don't you?' Ellen doesn't approve of the match with Everett. Everett played piano at the hotel--the only place he could get music outside of singing.

Everett: “You just want to grow up, don’t you?”
Ellen doesn’t approve of the match with Everett.
Everett played piano at the hotel–the only place he could get music outside of singing.

And none of these things ended up in the story.

And here, for fun, is one of the quotes I have on my wall for inspiration:

"We will nobly save or meanly lose the last, best hope of earth." --A Lincoln

“We will nobly save or meanly lose the last, best hope of earth.” –A Lincoln

And here’s a view of my wall:

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From the top, that’s Abraham Lincoln (duh), the unfinished Capitol, Thomas Jefferson, me at Monticello, and Julia Ward Howe.

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