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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

BUT WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS?

By Bea Tifton


But Where Do You Get Your Ideas?  Confessions of a Writer with an Overactive Imagination.

One of the most common questions writers get is, “Where do you get your ideas?” 

Recently, I was having coffee with a friend, people watching and chatting, and we wandered into discussing the progress I’m making with the book I’m writing.


“Do you ever put people you know in your books? You know, take part of their quirky little personalities or something odd you see?” she asked with a puckish grin.

“Of course not.” I replied. Then in my best legalese voice, I added, “This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to people living or dead is strictly coincidental.” 

And, we laughed and laughed. I conceded that perhaps sometimes, maybe, in a parallel universe, I just might work in some of the weirder slices of life I’ve observed, usually odd things I’ve done. 

I am an avid people watcher and a shameless eavesdropper in public places. When I was a little girl, my mother taught me to look at people we’d see when we were running errands or waiting in the car and make up little stories about them. Nothing malicious, just who they were and what they were doing. It stuck, and now I put those stories on paper.

I was thinking about my conversation with my friend as I was driving home from the grocery store.  I passed a rolled up Persian carpet and thought, Huh. Someone rolled a body up in that carpet and just left it in the rain on 8th Avenue. I immediately laughed at myself. It wasn’t really a body burrito, was it? 

A body burrito or just a rolled carpet?


I realized I might, just maybe, be too consumed with reading mysteries and actually trying to write one. But I confess that I’ve kept my eyes on it for the past couple of weeks as it has started to break apart in the prolific rains we’ve had. The inner contents revealed themselves and it’s just a bundle of old clothes. But whose clothes? And why are they rolled up in a carpet right there on 8th Avenue. Hmmm.

I used to live in a quirky neighborhood. I miss that. I just never knew what I would see. Two days ago I was cutting through that part of town and I saw a guy walking down the street carrying a steel ladder. Just walking down the street. Was he stealing it? Was he going to break into someone’s house? To propose to his lady love so she could sneak out of her second story bedroom to elope? And why wasn’t anyone else even giving him a second glance? Hmmm.


Am I going to open myself to litigation by including libelous characterizations of people? Oh, no. But, that said, be nice to me. Or you might just end up in my book. J




Public Domain Photo credits:
Latte by Lesly Juarez
Two Brown Wooden Ladders by Biao Xie
Girl Covering Her Mouth by Andre Guerra

6 comments:

  1. Writers can't help the "what if" events surrounding us. Good post, Bea.

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    1. Thank you, Caroline. It's nice to know other people share my "what if" affliction.

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  2. And sometimes ideas just pop into your head with no rhyme or reason behind them. My husband says writers have bizarre brains. I tend to agree! Nice post.

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    1. Thank you, Judy Ann Davis. Yes, I agree with your husband, too.

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  3. I will always be transported by your imagination and the words you use to express it, whatever its miraculous and mysterious origins.

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