Story ideas have never been an issue for me. I'm the girl whose house burned down four days before Christmas, whose (sealed) juvenile record includes a trespassing charge for stalking the New Kids on the Block, who has a cat that has learned how to set off the alarm clock, consistently, at 6am. The ideas are always there, even if you've never been pulled into a jazzy rendition of "When You're Smiling" by a tux-wearing homeless man north of Market -- you just have to keep your eyes open. And possibly one ear for police sirens, if you're into stalking boy bands.
But the real genesis of a book isn't the idea -- it's the first line. "One upon a time," is an oldie, but when it comes to"I spent the Christmas after the house fire clutching what remained -- a sequined halter top and a left shoe that I wasn't totally sure was my own," it's not exactly a goodie.
So how do you start? What words do you string together to usher in your own crazy story or sidewalk sing-a-longs (I really do miss living in the heart of San Francisco)? The best advice I've ever gotten? Jump in with both feet. The fact that I used a half-bottle of Aqua Net and an entire one of spray glitter before the New Kids concert isn't half as interesting as the cold click of cuffs around my wrists as I watched my teenage dream -- Donnie Wahlberg -- getting smaller and smaller as an SJPD officer escorted me off the premesis. It doesn't matter that that my cat is the sweetest, blue-eyed, most snuggly thing in the world if you don't know her (or have no intention of sleeping past 6am); it's the action.
Start your book like you start your day: jump in with both feet, eyes wide open -- and keep a fire extinguisher handy.