Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Shooting Blanks


I have snatches of ideas throughout the day, most especially the time right before I fall asleep. Scenes and blog post ideas scamper merrily through my fogged brain, only to vanish in the harsh light of morning. I sit at the computer, watching the cursor blink on the blank white screen, taunting me. “So where’s the brilliant dialogue? What about the Vauxhall Vixens post? You know you should have written stuff down, dummy.”

And so I should, if I could read my notes. I carry a little red notebook in my big red handbag. Here are some examples of what I’ve scribbled, with original punctuation, or lack thereof:

Hart teaching girls what?

Conflict body betrays guilt.

Clothes, boys.

Christmas holiday crisp, cold.

“She was killed in a robbery and that’s why you became a sheriff. And celibate. That makes you wounded and brooding. Sound good?”

Uh, no. None of it sounds good. And that’s what I’ve written at school when I’m awake. I mean, Hart and the cat during Eden’s bedrest. Where the f was I going with that?

Some years ago my husband and I argued over who was snoring. I admitted to a snort or three, but John denied he made any noise whatsoever. I hung a voice-activated tape recorder on the bedpost and waited until trees were being felled in the bedroom forest by the trusty chainsaw and whispered, “It’s 2 AM and that’s John cutting wood.” Ah, vindication. I need to find that tape recorder.

How do you corral your thoughts for writing? Do you storyboard, outline or otherwise outshine me in organization? Do you go to the grocery store and forget why you're there? Do you have a stash of "Happy Belated Birthday" cards? Or, even worse, have you started your Christmas shopping already?

11 comments:

MsHellion said...

*ROTFLMAO* Did your husband concede he was sawing logs finally?

I have about 30 notebooks with snatches of scenes and names. I'm always trying to find the perfect name for my characters; it drives me crazy! I have a notebook in my purse (compliments of Sin) which is useful for when I'm at the movie theater and am inspired. Happens more often than you think.

My notes make about as much sense as yours!

Kelly Krysten said...

lol. MAggie I think we were separated at birth. I always forget my 'brilliant' ideas and my notes make little sense. My best ideas come when I can't write anything, though.
Great blog post!

Tiffany Kenzie said...

I usually forgot the brilliant things I think up. If i have a story idea. I jot down a beginning (300-500 words) and come back to it later. So far, so good, I haven't forgotten too much when I come back to it, and other ideas start percolating in my head when I open up something I wrote down months ago.

Love the tape recorder. My husband can't deny it. My kids always tease him about daddy snores really loud! I don't snore :) I did once when I was really sick. But I'm quiet. I toss and turn and steal all the blankets instead.

Stephanie said...

Crack me up! Glad it wasn't you that was snoring! But ok, sometimes I almost wonder if it's better to be the snorer because then you're not the one trying to fall asleep while the other person is snoring!

I keep a little Moleskine notebook in my purse. It's dedicated to writing but it's SO hard not to use it when I need to jot down some random shopping list item. Half the time, when I need to jot something down, I realize that I've left the pencil on my kitchen counter or in the car. Gah!

terrio said...

I'm assuming it's redundant at this point to say I can't remember things. If I go to the grocery store without a list, I'm screwed. Last night, I put the raffle tickets for my daughter's softball league next to my cell phone so I wouldn't forget them. I have the phone. Guess where the tickets are.

If I make notes, I have to make detailed notes. Though while driving this weekend, I wrote down (while driving 80mph down I-85) "First love scene - caught in rain." I'm pretty sure I'll have no problem remembering what that means.

Now I just have to get to that dang part of the book!

Maggie Robinson said...

Terrio, I seriously thought of giving CRS a plug. :) I find lists all over the house...not in my bag, where they need to be. Just the other day I found the Thanksgiving dinner menu under my bed. I hope I served everything. *g*

Hellion, I have some big spiral notebooks too but I can't really read my handwriting, especially when my brain is going faster than my hands. And when I write in the dark---

Stephanie, I have forever solved the pen/pencil problem. My wallet has a loop in the middle for a pen, and I actually keep returning it to its place. I always have a writing instrument now---genius! Now if only my ideas were.

Kelly, my best ideas, such as they are, come when I'm pecking away, completely unplanned. When I reread the stuff, I'm constantly amazed and wonder if my body got taken over by an alien or something. That would explain so much.

Tiff, I have my own blanket, which I mummify myself with. I cannot share. John would steal the covers and then throw them on the floor and I'd freeze to death. Now I'm just like Linus, blanket trailing behind.

Santa said...

I have notes everywhere. In notebooks. In my head. On order sheets from the store. I rewrote my whole opening scene and I hope to God I wrote it down somewhere!

Sigh. I'd love to try my hand at storyboarding. It seems to have helped so many others.

Janga said...

I too keep a notebook in my purse, and I even write down ideas with a fair amount of detail. But then I forget about the notebook. Just the act of writing something down often seems to engrave it on my brain as well. So I remember most of what I take the time to write. On the other hand, ideas that I don't write down are like colorful, helium-filled ballons that float away into the blue. I retain an impression of brightness but the shades and shapes and textures of the ideas are gone.

Gillian Layne said...

Huge notebook in a vastly unorganized tote posing as a 'purse'. Lots of scribbled notes as soon as I quit driving, because all my best ideas come while I'm driving. I've tried the voice activated recorder, but once I talk, I lose my train of thought.

Christmas shopping? Are you nuts? That's why God created December 23rd...:)

Maggie Robinson said...

Oh, Santa. I sure hope you find it! If only I knew enough about my story, I could storyboard. But I'm a complete pantser---stuff only comes as I sit and type.

Gillian, I wonder if I could talk into a tape recorder, too. I can't even really write stuff with a pen. I need the keyboard, although I can't type to save my life. Weird.

Janga, what a perfectly poetic post, LOL. So very familiar, too.

BernardL said...

Once a concept excites me, I start writing. Brief outlines help me map out a complex scene, but I do no storyboards. I confess to making a few notes as enigmatic as yours though. :)