Jessie: In Northern New England where the leaves are putting on their autumnal show!
Last week we chatted about signs concerning life in general. This week I am wondering what serves as a sign in reference to your work. What sort of signs clue you in that an idea is big enough to spark a book? What about a sign that lets you know you have gone off track with a project?
Sherry: When I was getting ready to write A Time to Swill, the second Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon book, I pulled out a file of news articles about the Florida Panhandle a friend had given me. There was an article about a ghost boat (an abandon boat) that had washed up on Miramar Beach near where my books are set. The boats name was Phantom of the Aqua! I got a tingly feeling and ideas flowed out of me. When I’m off track words won’t come — that is a big sign!
Barb: A lot of people talk about getting up in the middle of the night, or climbing out of the shower, and jotting down images, situations, sentences–any little scrap of an idea. I’ve always believed the good ideas are the ones you keep coming back to, that you keep niggling over in your head. For me, that’s the sign that says, “Dig here.” Of course, now that I’m getting older, maybe thinking the ideas you remember are the good ones is not such a great strategy. And who knows how many potentially brilliant things I’ve blissfully forgotten over the years?
Liz: I’m so sad I missed last week’s blog – I SO believe in signs. Dragonflies are my animal sign for sure, and lately dragons have been a big one. As far as my writing goes, I definitely subscribe to the scrap of ideas you mention above, Barb. I get a lot of ideas while I’m walking every day, and I’m always frantically leaving myself voice notes. The ones that stick and capture my interest when I go back and look at them are the ones I pursue.
Edith/Maddie: I’ve had that sparkly feeling Sherry mentions at seeing a news clip, hearing a vignette, or seeing a notice on a town Facebook group. The ones that stick I write on my office whiteboard. Some might make as a book, some a short story, some might never appear. Right now the list includes “Twist of Fate,” autocorrect, flashlight corn-maze, red hot-tub. Make of it what you will!
Julie: What an interesting conversation! For my writing, I get a germ of an idea and I don’t know what I’m going to do with it. Then I start reading, watching, thinking, dreaming and more and more will be added to the germ. That’s less of a sign, and more of a process. I’m not sure of a sign per se, but I do get the “this is it” feeling in my gut that helps me keep going.
Jessie: All of this is so interesting! Sometimes I get a sort of excited, tingly feeling too, like a sparkling beam is right over my head when the right ideas have arrived. And like Sherry, feeling stuck is absolutely a sign that something is just not right about the story.
Readers, what about your own projects? Do you ever have the feeling that something will or will not work?
Think we all see signs on projects – some good, some bad and some big, some small. It’s what we decide to do with them that counts. Some you throw in the towel and start the next project while others you fight through the problems determined to make it to the other end. Then there are signed that can point you in the right direction when you seem lost as to how to make it work. Sometimes it’s the journey that is as satisfying as the end result. Just knowing you didn’t give up. I know I’m definitely into listen and watching for signs (or some may say gut feeling) to lead me where I need to be.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
I know just what you mean about the journey being as satisfying as the end! I take that approach with my knitting projects and for the most part with my writing too!
A sign to me that the time is “right” for a project is having lots of excitement and ideas, whether it’s writing or something else. And yes, failure to progress is a sure sign that something is off the rails.
Excitement is a sure sign of being on the right track for so many things, isn’t it?
It is important to write down the ideas that come into your head when you think of them. I do that with my grocery list and it isn’t as important.
I have to do that with my grocery list too! Otherwise, I inevitably end up forgetting something I meant to purchase!
I keep several idea files, one in One Note, another in a file folder, and then there’s all those pesky notes in note books. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I circle the ideas in the notebooks, makes ’em stand out and much easier than reading through pages of random phone numbers and doodles. I purge the files periodically, and the ones that won’t let me go are the ones that usually have legs.
I circle things in notebooks too, Kait!
This is such an incredibly interesting question and one that I can’t answer simply. Yes, I see signs everywhere in all sorts of things. Some are good and some are bad. And the notes and lists I make are forever! I think purging those must be a good sign once in a while. Wish I could purge the To Do list a bit better!
I love the notion of purging the to do list!
When reading a book that I’m supposed to review for Mystery Scene magazine, I guess it is a sign that as I’m reading along and not enjoying anything in the story that I begin talking to myself in my head.
The conversation usually goes something along these lines: “Well, I’m not really liking the book. But I need to finish it because it is a review title and maybe it will pick up.” Then when it doesn’t and I’m feeling totally unsatisfied with the book, I will say something like this: “Well, that just didn’t work for me at all. Now I have to email my review editor and tell them I am passing on the review. Do I say that I just didn’t find the book to be very good or do I dress it up with some language frippery?”
What an interesting insight into your thoughts as you handle some titles! Also, I love any occasion when the word frippery comes up!
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