So many of the pieces in my ‘basket’ started with a single thought or fragment.
Putting them on paper alters their form – from what was in my mind a moment ago when my brain had that thought.
Some bits have a life or instead come to life, the next time I read them, or the tenth time, or never.
Then they take on a life of their own – as if they are real, which they are if only in my mind, but the thought then becomes a reality when it takes shape on paper the ways sand, gravel, water, and cement take shape when mixed, and then they get set. Sometimes like concrete. Sometimes more like Jello.
Having a reservoir of ideas is essential – it comes from the wisdom of others far more than me, but once I mastered the habits, those ideas become mine.
Like the other day, as some jerk in a grocery store parking lot showed me his behavior, his words, his index finger … I had much more than a memory. I had a scene for a play or a character in a story – I had a look on his face, and a moment of drama – worth saving, worth writing down before the thought is lost.
As Nora Ephron learned from her family around the breakfast table, and as I’ve learned from her lessons and examples, ‘everything is copy’ – those things which resonate with any audience or reader, are things we’ve all felt, experiences we’ve all had – that relate to what the writer writes.
It’s not so much about being relevant as it is about being relatable.
We want characters on the page to feel how we’ve felt, see what we’ve seen, know what we know – not 100% of the time, but enough so that we can make a connection to the moment, the character.
So here is a challenge for readers and writers alike – if you could write a novel or screenplay about your life, who would you be, how would you behave, and what would it be like to watch yourself on the big screen or see yourself on the page in the next chapter.