Never Assume Something Is wasted

John Clark on a manic writing binge. Remember the heated pool from my Places of Power post? Something else kicked the creativity from my mornings in hot water into overdrive. I’m not making any attempt to sell you something, but read on.

A month ago, I responded to a post on the Maine Library listserv asking whether anyone had experience hiring someone for contract cataloging. Since this is a part of library work I very much enjoy (after declaring on the final day of my cataloging class at the University of South Carolina that ‘Hell would freeze over before I used that skill), I replied and said I was interested. A couple weeks later, I went to do an interview in Boothbay Harbor. It went well, and I was hired to create bibliographic records for obscure items.

Having once been the director there, I’m fond of and familiar with the town, so I decided it was a splurge day at Enchantments, one of the neatest stores on the planet. After selecting a number of new bumper stickers, my favorite being “Prays well with Others,” I decided to check out the candle display. I still have my Prosperity candle I bought there close to twenty years ago.

This time, I looked over the entire selection. While several were enticing, the one I bought is called Creativity. It’s eight inches tall and close to three in diameter, with iris, rose and cinnamon as the essential oils. Call me crazy, but ever since I brought it home and set it beside my computer, I’ve written between 1,000-2,000 words a day. Even better, I’m awash with new ideas, a particularly nice side effect, given the number of themed anthology contests for short stories.

The novella, destined to be the last piece in Hardscrabble Kids is now at 45,000 words and I’m only halfway through the plot. Instead of it becoming the finishing piece, I took Subah Rioux, one of the six characters I wrote about in a blog last year, and wrote her story. Then a conversation about how so many people were overdoing caffeine I heard in the locker room at the Alfond Center became a flash fiction piece submitted to another anthology competition. When MWPA announced their flash contest in the latest newsletter, I tucked the prompt in the back of my head and went swimming. Three hours later, my entry was done and submitted.

In addition to working on Don’t say It, the book in progress, I’m writing stories to enter in the Sex and Violins and Asinine Assassins anthology contests.

As to the title of this blog entry, I’ve been careful to save anything I’ve begun as a document, just in case I might have better insight into it later. The candle has given me hope that many of them are worthy of resurrection and rehabilitation. Interesting character names are also saved in a text file, because you never know who’s likely to save the day. People like Annise Thesia and her cousin Lida Kane who live in the sleepy town of Slumber Point on a Maine river, have joined Clard Briggs, Bug Wiesendorf, Gnard Siskibunti, and the universally disliked Gudi Tuchuz are sitting around an imaginary table in my imagination, awaiting their stories to be created.

Case in point, Marcy-Jo Parmenter, the sixteen year old protagonist in Don’t Say It was a twelve year old boy lacking a big toe thanks to his OCD when I first got the idea for the story three years ago. Much of the rest of the original story idea remains, but it’s working so much better with Marcy-Jo.

Given that I have four YA urban fantasy novels partially written, I’m in hopes some candle magic will help them along as well.

In addition, there’s the fun of new ideas appearing in my head all the time. Below are a few examples.

1-Sarah Palin’s revelation that she has COVID took me back to something from the campaign, but it’s now as follows; “I looked up as a pig wearing lipstick and a FitBit sauntered by me, smiling mysteriously.”

2-from a faculty Christmas party at Husson years ago. “I was about to dip a piece of angel food cake in the chocolate fountain when it winked at me (the fountain, not the cake)”

3-My granddaughter Piper was looking out the back window just after sunset a year ago last December and said; “I am the daughter who loves winter, dark winter.” (is this a great opening line for a story, or what?)

In addition to thoughts, there’s gold in conversations overheard as well as interesting people you see. As a writer, I have the fun of looking at a person and imagining them in a story. And now back to my book.

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5 Responses to Never Assume Something Is wasted

  1. Richard Cass says:

    Nice, John. The biggest challenge for me is a system for finding and retrieving the nuggets when I need them . . .

    • John Clark says:

      I have a text file called slush that everything goes into. It’s easy to search later by keyword.

  2. maggierobinsonwriter says:

    I need more candles. 🙂

  3. Maybe you’d better get me that candle for my birthday. I absolutely agree about keeping things. Ideas. Story fragments. All of it. Whether in a file on the computer or a paper file.


  4. Julianne Spreng says:

    Your energy just zings!!! Love your work so just keep it coming…huge smile!

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