Monday, May 30, 2011

Collecting things

I cannot for the life of me find the article now, but a few days back I was puttering around online and I found an article which was a step by step process of writing a novel. The writer of the article said that the first step was collecting ideas. She (I'm pretty sure it was a woman!) said that many writers were collectors as kids, never throwing things away and always wondering when something that they had might come in handy. She said that as adults, this translated into collecting ideas and inspiration for out books.

This really struck me as a brilliant thought. I was absolutely a collector as a kid and in some ways I still am. Much to the chagrin of my mother, I never wanted to throw anything away, be it a scrap of paper I scribbled in in second grade, or a little bolt that I might need some day. I have improved on that, but I still collect ideas, just as she said.

I have a space in the coffee table in our living room where I am constantly stashing things, mostly papers, that I don't want to throw away. Well, Aaron finally got fed up with it and made me clean it out and organize it yesterday. As I sorted through all sorts of stuff (which by the way were in layers like an archaeological dig, it was kind of a slice of my life over the past few months) I came across dozens of little scraps of paper, receipts, pieces torn off of larger paper pieces, note cards, anything that you can write on. These had ideas for future stories, quotes that caught my eye, thoughts about my current story, phrases of speech that I found especially exquisite. I always just jot them down on whatever is handy, during movies, while at work (I have probably hundreds written on Blockbuster receipt paper while I worked there). Anyway, the experience reminded me of the article about collecting and showed me that, yes, I am absolutely still a collector. Just a collector of thoughts and experiences.

I would like to end with a couple of quotes about writing that have been an inspiration to me since I was a young girl. I saw both of these quotes in book about writing and had them written in Sharpie on the inside of my "writing notebook" which I kept while I was in middle school and early high school before I had a computer.

"Inspiration only knocks. Some writers expect it to knock down the door and drag them out of bed."

This second one I'm not sure if I have the details write so you can correct me if I'm wrong:

"No experience, good or bad, is lost on a writer who can put it to use." That one especially has gotten me through some hard times in my life as it is very true. A writer who experiences only pleasant experiences will not be able to write as effectively about the difficult ones.

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