Kate Flora: I am convinced, of course, that people rarely read what I write here, which
gives me license to write nonsense from time to time. Today, having crawled out of the car after eight hours in awful traffic, I’m not sure I have the capacity to write anything BUT nonsense. Sometimes the most fun blog posts emerge, though, when I have nothing planned in advance and just sit down and write, bleary eyes be damned!
As you know, most of a writer’s life is spent sitting at a desk, fingers poised over the keyboard, hoping that the lovely sentences crafted in the writerly brain actually seem lovely when put down on the page. But as I’ve occasionally remarked here, sometimes the writer is allowed to leave her desk and go out into the world in search of inspiration. It can take very strange forms.
For the past several days, being away from my desk has involved driving from New England to the Gulf Coast of Sunny Florida. It was warm when I left, making me wonder why needed to so south at all, and today it was 90 degrees here.
Much of the fun of being out on the road, when there aren’t traffic jams, is watching the world around me. So, heading south toward Washington D.C., I found myself behind a truck with this message written on the back: Hate trucks? Stop buying stuff. Problem solved. Pithy and to the point.
Passing a sign that declared Savannah, Georgia, “the world’s most romantic cities,” and attributing that quote to a travel magazine, I, like any writer would, yelled, “GET ME AN EDITOR.” But then, as my husband and I speculated about what we thought was romantic, we passed a dead skunk, our speculations became about roadkill and romance, or, as he said, “Roadkill and Candlelight.” I said it sounded like a blog post. He agreed. Actually, I think it will end up being a short story.
And instead of letting other people’s annoying driving make me furious, I collect the idiots, and the autos they choose, and their appearances, expressions, and aggressions, and save them up for minor characters.
Do the rest of you take notes on possible stories as you drive along? Are there genius ideas lurking somewhere in your life on small pieces of paper? Now that I’m older,
and my memory isn’t as keen as it once was, I tend to write the clever ideas down in my phone. Alas, though, often later I can’t remember what those pithy notes mean. For example, one note reads: A pot full of brown water. On reflection I realize this refers to the coffee at the Ritz. They could do better. I think we all know what “Last French fry before kale,” means. But what about “the bloody tart?” Or “why’d it have to be snakes?” Or the comment someone once made that I heard wrong, about a copy who loved to stop people for “erotic driving.”
Or how about this gem, which ought to send all of you scrambling to your keyboards:
Sex scenes based on Moby Dick, Dickens, Ulysses.
Some good advice for writers, saved in my phone, source unknown: Take two hours and call me in the morning.
Do not allow your heart to harden.
Be a student even when you’re a teacher
Allow Your Fear
and Create Miracles.
Maybe what we all need to do, from time to time, is get behind the wheel, go on a road trip, or explore the gems we’ve at some point recorded on small bits of paper. The world is full of things to intrigue or entertain us.