When a Story Strikes

Blank PagesCreativity is sneaky; it can strike at the most inopportune moments, and writers need to be prepared. Writers can find inspiration while showering, cooking biscotti, giving back rubs, performing open heart surgery, or in my case all of the above simultaneously, and creative ideas can whither if not recorded quickly enough. Many writers, myself included, carry around small notebooks to salvage sudden ideas.

Sometimes, the best preparations fall short. While flying home this week, I was enjoying the on-flight complimentary burned coffee when something in my brain clicked, and an idea for a story crystallized.

Before I could pull out my notebook and pen, the plane began to shake. The pilot announced that we should remain seated through the turbulence, “even if you do like it shaken, not stirred.” My tray table lurched as I flipped to the next blank page and scribbled down every detail of my brilliant, wonderful story idea while it was still fresh.

Several hours later, as I waited for the shuttle to my hometown, I had a few spare moments to look back at the brilliant, wonderful, award-winning story idea. Instead, I found in my notebook a slim paragraph of what looked like ancient hieroglyphics. My handwriting is bad to begin with; add a jittery writing space and a lack of patience, and clarity is doomed. I could make out the words “old man” and “saucepan” amid the scribbles, but otherwise my brilliant, wonderful, paradigm-shifting story idea was illegible.

Rest in peace, story idea. I’m sure what I would have titled “The Old Man and the Saucepan” would have been excellent. In my rush to preserve it intact, I lost it entirely. As a writer, I should slow down sometimes. More importantly, I should learn to trust myself to utilize a half-formed idea. Even the best ideas I’ve recorded legibly have evolved. Art, after all, is a process of evolution, patient and sometimes careless. The key to producing good art is the ability to improvise. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to clean biscotti dough out of my shower drain.

-jk

6 thoughts on “When a Story Strikes

  1. Kelsie Engen

    Man, I hate it when that happens! Of course, in my experience, I tend to have a “ground shaking” idea and then when I look back at it a day later, I wonder why on earth I thought that was such a great idea! haha. For the handwriting reason though, I LOVE using Evernote. I always have my phone on me though, and so opening the app is much easier than dragging out a pen and notebook! 🙂 Love the post though!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. keeneshort Post author

      Thank you! I’ve used a similar app on my own phone, but I find myself away from it all too often. Amazingly, my handwriting is clearer than the typos I make in text. . .

      Like

      Reply

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