Gerry here. And let’s be honest. We all do it. Some of us allot a fixed amount of time for it. Some of us do it until our backs are against the deadline wall. Some of us pretend not to do it, and cover it up if someone comes in the room.
I’m not ashamed to say I’m talking about procrastination, those few minutes when you should be writing but for whatever reason, you’re not quite ready. So you pet the cat. Look out the window at the birdfeeders. Dig through your desk drawer for that special pen. Pick up the guitar. Flip through someone else’s book.
I don’t know who’s running that newspaper but they’re taking a tip from the tabs and that’s not a bad thing. (NY Daily News and NY Post take crime reporting to a new level.) My son logs in every day to check on the latest Maine mayhem—from Australia. I’ve made the BDN crime reports my procrastination favorite.
I like the BDN’s crime stuff because it’s sharp, lively, inquisitive, sometimes humorous, and set in Maine—the world of my books. And I can always say I’m doing research because the fact is there’s a book idea every day.
Today’s edition alone. Book ideas that could carry you for 10 years. “Chinese buffets in Maine linked to money laundering, illegal aliens.” Illegal workers kept in squalid conditions. Shuffled from restaurant to restaurant. Kept in servitude while they pay back exorbitant placement fees. Stuck in Maine cities and town where they don’t know a soul or speak the language. A mystery novel there or what? And check out Kevin Bennett’s BDN photos shown here. The photog was on the scene!
A prominent pastor in the Bangor area jumps from a the Verona bridge after cops came asking questions about alleged sex abuse decades ago. Authorities say no foul play, unless you consider suicide foul for a man of the cloth. Book fodder? You bet. Fiction treatment: Did he really jump? Was he going to rat out the real perpetrator? Was he pushed? Did someone want him out of the way for an unrelated reason? Did he jump to protect an even darker secret or darker someone? Was he a reverend at all? If not, who was he really?
The guy who got in a police chase with his toddlers in the car (thanks, dad). The guy who threatened a deputy, mistaking him for his ex’s new boyfriend (whoops.) The high-tech marijuana-growing family, both sons with engineering degrees. (The family that’s busted together …)
A writerly tip: all of these are seeds of stories that can become novels if you consider them long enough, thoroughly enough, let your imagination turn them from people in news stories to characters.
It’s all part of the process of turning real-life experiences, even bits and pieces of them, into our fiction. The mulling, imagining, even the daydreaming. And when the seed is planted, write and watch it grow.
That’s time well spent.