This is an exciting day for me—my first blog post as an official member of The LadyKillers. I’m going to have to work hard to keep up with such distinguished company. So with that in mind, here’s my take on Discarded Ideas.
My mother used to say I had “big ideas.” And she was right.
I was going to become a rock star, have five children, become a chef, write the
great American novel, and move to Alaska. Taylor Swift can stop looking over
her shoulder. And Lady Gaga can breathe a sigh of relief, since my short stint
with The Possums didn’t yield a single gig.
And I’ll never ski K2 or windsurf from Maui to Molokai.
My son has had to take the place of five children--something he did quite well when he was a teenager. After my last backpacking adventure, I gave up on hiking the Pacific Trail. As for moving to Alaska, I have no interest in tangling with Mama Grizzly.
But one idea I never discarded was that of being a published writer. Granted, Tea Oerbhet and Jami Attenberg can stop trembling when they hear my name—the great American novel is probably not in my future. But four months ago, my dream of finding a publisher came true and I’m still holding onto the idea of being a widely read mystery writer.
I wonder which of the story ideas I’ve jotted down in the past twelve months will be discarded, and which ones will have “legs?” I recently read the beginning of a prospective novel I called MISTAKEN HEART, in which a woman cowers in a cheap motel room, terrified that her abusive husband will come after her. It’s an interesting few pages, but I have no idea where it was going. And when I read it, nothing came to mind about what would happen next. I may keep it in my “ideas” file, but I have a suspicion that it will go nowhere. Another idea I had for a romantic suspense novel I called TRIPLE OR NOTHING is more promising, but will it cry out to be written
By contrast I’ve jotted down ideas for two more books in my Samuel Craddock series. I’ve written the first chapter of one and as soon as I read over it, I knew what would happen in the next chapter. And I’m pretty sure I know who did what and why. The other one concerns a recurring character and her not-so-nice brother. These two stories keep coming back to me, every time with new details. They are stories that want to be told.
At least once a day I think, “What if…” And sometimes I take a few notes. Most of these ideas will be discarded, or maybe come back as a little piece of something I’m working on. The ones that keep nudging me are the ones that don’t get discarded.