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?