Dee Tales are whimsical stories inspired by photographs taken with my i-phone. A tiny story for you, a wee sense of accomplishment for me. Enjoy.
It’s six in the morning and there’s a line outside the warehouse. Many of us can’t stand for long due to age or illness, but thankfully there are chairs. Hours later when I reach the front, I stumble. It looked so much smaller on the news. The metal almost looks angry.
“Have a seat.” The operator instructs me. There are no wires or electrodes. Just a chair, still warm from the last person who used it.
“You ready?” I nod. “You sure?” The operator gives a wink and then turns a crank.
Blurry images speed past. Too fast for my brain to register.
“Do you want to leave a copy with the archives?” I nod. Make as many copies as you’d like.
I’m handed the recording. For a machine so huge, it produces something very small.
“Thank you.” I say as I slipping it into my purse.
“No problem.” The operator says motioning to the next person. When I go home I will watch it. Not on fast forward as it was recorded, but slowly, in order. One memory at a time.
Ideas are everywhere… or so we’re told. Telling a writer ideas are everywhere is like telling a single woman that men are everywhere. Sure they are, but if you’re looking for your soulmate, you’re going to want a specific age range, geographical location, personality, martial status (that would be single) and, you know, attracted to you. As a writer you can be inspired by anything if you’re open to it. But hitting on a good idea, never mind a great one, is tough.
The only way I get a great idea is by coming up with a whack load of bad ones first. Maybe that’s why so many of us are hesitant to start. We know so much of what we create is going to be crap. The trick is to never settle for the ideas that are only okay. Just because they’re not bad, that doesn’t mean you should include them. (This holds true for the soulmate simile as well) Only include the best, the very best ideas in your work. You’ll know them when you find them (see simile again).
If you’re really stuck, there are dozens (if not hundreds) of books on writing exercises. Stream of consciousness writing is a favourite for some, but I prefer The Obsession List. This exercise was given to me by the Dramaturge and Artistic Director of Nightswimming Theatre, Brian Quirt and involves writing list of what you’re obsessing about right now… The weather? Chocolate craving? A crush? The future? Chose one of the items at random and write about it.
If people ask where your ideas come from, may I suggest quoting author Neil Gaiman’s answer which, let’s be honest, is totally awesome.
Neil Gaiman’s Ideas
When God hands you a gift, he also hands you a whip; and the whip is intended solely for self-flagellation. – Truman Capote.
All artists all convinced they need to work harder, do better, be better. But we’re also being told that stress is a killer, that we should breath, meditate, take up yoga or jogging. (Or joga – a yoga/jogging combination that I still don’t really understand…) Is the stress of self pressure killing your art?
Sophy Burnham author of For Writers Only told a fellow writer that when she’s not making any progress she yells at herself to get moving. The other writer was shocked. She recommended speaking in a smoothing voice for comfort. I like this idea. I like the idea of being in a good place (figuratively and literally) when you write. These are my suggestions for how to get into a comforting space.
Bust out the p.js, yoga pants or sweats. Did you totally cave and get those Simpsons Duff Can slippers from Walmart? Putt’em on.
While I don’t recommend beer or wine while you write, why not ice tea, a milkshake or hot chocolate (weather depending).
The Right Tunes
A make a playlist. Make a few.
Tell Yourself What You Want To Hear
That you’re talented. You have a gift. You are. You do. Keep at it.