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53 // The Spark of an Idea

Last night, before I went to sleep, an idea crept into my head. It burrowed itself deep down in my brain while I was sleeping, and when I awoke, it was just a mere recollection of nonsense words. But something must’ve reminded me, because I began to think of it again. This time, on my way home from work. It was just a little kernel of an idea, a potentially interesting premise for a novel that has not yet been begun.

Usually when these ideas hit, I think about them for a little and then promptly forget them. I can’t tell you how many ideas I’ve had over the years that in the end, just don’t go anywhere. They hardly make it off the ground before falling back to the Earth with a crash. But this idea took a hold of me and had me giggling to myself during my drive, a strange confidence in this idea already starting to seep through my veins. I don’t often giggle in the car by myself.

But I started stringing together some opening lines, out loud. Someone probably thought perhaps I was crazy if they saw me at some stoplight, mouthing a bunch of words in a very slow manner. Trying to make sure they were just right, even if I couldn’t get them right down on paper. Already, the character had inhabited me. I heard her talking to her Gram, I saw her father’s dusty trunk full of old shoes, I saw a whole town’s preoccupation with funerals.

If this idea sound weird, it’s because it is. But I’m a little in love with it and where it could lead. I find it fitting that on my last day of being 23, a year where I’ve done things I never thought I’d do and met people I’d only once wished to meet, this last little day of this age is when some idea strikes me like a miniature bolt of lightning. Maybe 24, which officially starts in 2 hours (though really, I was born at 6:40 PM so I really do have a long way to go before this twenty-third year dissipates into my past), will become the year where my inspiration comes back. Maybe I have to write this really strange novel, and dig into this little oddball of a character with her eccentric little family, in her incredibly weird little town. Maybe this is something good.

I got home from work tonight and immediately wrote down some loose notes on all the ideas I’d had floating through my head. So now they’re down, somewhere temporarily permanent a la my computer’s hard drive. I’d like to pick them back up. Maybe I’ll write by hand on Friday. I have a 5 and a half hour bus trek coming up this weekend, and it’d be nice to get in some writing time without having to worry about going to work, what’s on TV, what’s for dinner, who am I seeing, where am I going?

The character’s name is Anna Lee. I’d like her first name to just be said as something like AnnaLee, but I hated all the misspelled spellings that Microsoft Word was giving me. Hence the space between the Anna and the Lee. I found myself giving her some kind of Southern lilt of an accent in my mind. I was born in Charleston, South Carolina—but I’ve got no solid knowledge and/or upbringing in the South.

With my North Carolina cousins though, I do find myself saying y’all.


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