When The Salmon Speaks, Do You Listen?

This made sense when I drew it. I swear.

Or: The One That Got Away

Last night, Trish and Becca came over to help me select a few of my paintings to donate to the Consortium’s art fundraiser. Afterward, Becca and I chatted about all things artsy, including noveling and blogging.

As I was replacing paintings on my overloaded art shelves, Becca said, “I almost had this great idea for a new story…but it didn’t quite materialize, and now I can’t remember it.”

I nodded in sympathy, having experienced such non-remembering of ideas more times than I care to not-forget. For a few moments, we discussed the merits of Writing Things Down, and then I remembered something.

“You know,” I said, “I just remembered something. I read somewhere that if we don’t quite remember a story idea, then maybe it wasn’t a valid story idea after all. If it really is The One, it’ll probably pop up again, even if we don’t write it down.”

Story Ideas Eat My Worms

Grandpa used to take us kids fishing every summer when my parents and I congregated with aunts, uncles, and cousins at the grandparental home in Oklahoma. We’d go out to a family friend’s property and fish from this rickety, ancient, sagging wooden bridge (which was okay for the ’80s but probably wouldn’t hold water [ha ha] with any safety standard of today).

Sometimes, we caught a fish, and there was much rejoicing, since Grandpa would be the one to clean it. Most times, though, we’d feel a twitch on our line, yank our fishing pole back, and reel in nothing but a soggy, half-eaten worm who was definitely not having a good day. Those crafty fish knew just how much to nibble without getting themselves in trouble. Which goes to show that a catfish is smarter than a 9-year-old human.

Last night, after Becca went home, I had an absolutely cramazing idea for a blog post.

I didn’t write it down.

This morning, I woke up not to a bright, sparkly new idea — but to a half-eaten, soggy, grumpy worm.

Big Fish Story

No! It really was that big! I promise!

I remember things about that blog post idea. It was gonna be smart, it was gonna be snarky-funny, and it was gonna give you dear inklings some great how-to-do-something info. That unwritten, now much-lamented blog post was going to be one of my best yet. It was gonna be The One.

It got away.

So now, I’m asking myself: Was that really The One? If it were The One, wouldn’t it have stuck around? Since all I ended up with was mangled bait, does that mean the Big One is still lurking out there somewhere?

And that thought leads to the image of me, wading out into the deep and getting half a leg bitten off by something that I wouldn’t have wanted on my line in the first place.

Ideas can be scary. Some of them have sharp teeth and are big enough to swallow you whole. They wait out there where it’s dark and deep, and oh, they move fast. I picture them as deep-sea angler fish the size of a VW Beetle.

Gone Fishin’

So, if you clicked through to that angler fish picture, you’ve now seen one of my greatest fears. Angler fish fascinate me — mostly because I find the sight of them terrifying. (Imagine my surprise and relief when, a few years back, I found out they’re about the size of my hand. Or smaller. No VWs, thank goodness.)

But, in spite of my fear, I still go fishin’. No, I’ve never fished out on the ocean — but even when I’m standing on the bank of a placid Oklahoma lake, my imagination supplies the endlessly deep water and the lurking, fishy creepazoids, thank you very much. Those shiver-your-spine thoughts don’t deter me from fishing…

…but still, let’s just say I’ll never become a noodler. ; )

Gone Writin’

So, what about this write-it-or-lose-it thing? Honestly, I can’t tell ya. I carry my scribblebook with me almost everywhere, and I’m always jotting down something. Are they all viable ideas? No. I’ve stuck a few soggy worms in there. Sometimes, the simple act of writing myself a note tells me that I won’t be looking at this idea again.

But still, I write ’em down, even if they’re nothing but water-logged mush. Because if I don’t write it down, I’ll always remember that flash of fin, that brief flick of a tail, and I’ll always wonder,

Was that The One?

______________________

And you, dear inklings? Do you keep a scribblebook? How faithful are you in recording those half-glimpsed ideas?

Or do you prefer the scribble-on-scraps technique of trapping those elusive ideas?

If you don’t capture an idea, do you choose to believe it wasn’t viable in the first place?

The One Where I’m Not An Impotent Bachelor

Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion by Salvador Dali

Fishing For Love in All the Wrong Places

So, Gmail has this fantastic little gadget called a spam filter. I don’t pretend to know how it works — I just know that my inbox never sees a shred of spam.

The filter is like that little guy in the office down the hall, doing his job in such a quiet, unassuming way that you never really notice he’s there. But if he didn’t show up one day, an apocalyptic avalanche of junk would come crashing down on your head.

I rely on that little guy, and maybe I even take him for granted. But I do check in on him every so often. And when I do, I get a good look at the trash the poor guy has to wade through every day!

Apparently, my spammers think I’m a customer, and they think I’m a customer who’s simply jonesing for their products. They offer me all sorts of peculiarities. They shake their wares beneath my nose and assume that the pleasing aroma of a great deal is just too delicious for me to resist. They think they know me, and they think they know exactly what I want.

The problem is, my spammers have pegged me wrong in three areas:

1. I am female.
2. I use my smartphone to tell time.
3. I’m married.

You see, ladies and gentlehobbits, my spammers are completely convinced that I’m an impotent man looking for good watches and a Russian bride.

These poor, misguided people just don’t get it. Like fishermen casting out lures, they send me all these emails, hoping I’ll bite. What they don’t understand is that they’re casting into a pond that has no fish in it.

Fishing For The Right Readers

When I finished the second draft of my YA paranormal novel Colors of Deception, I gave it to my mom for proofing. My mother happens to be my foremost beta reader, and she makes better every piece of writing I share with her. She also taught English and Literature to teenagers for 25 years.

After reading and marking-up, she handed back the copy of Colors and said, “You can’t write for teenagers like this.”

All I can remember now is that somewhere in the manuscript, I used the word “elucidate.”

Not that I think teens won’t know the meaning of “elucidate.” But that’s not the only adult vocabulary I wrote into the novel. Throughout the story, my style betrayed the fact that I was used to writing to adults. What did I know about writing to teens? I was casting my lures in vain, because the fish I was looking for were in a different pond.

I had to find different ways of expressing myself without losing the flow and feel of the story. Some re-writing was in order. So I did it.

Whether or not I succeeded in hieing myself to the right fishing spot has yet to be proven. Currently, my editor(s) is (are) putting the manuscript through its first paces toward publication, and I’m sure they’ll have some feedback for me on this score. (And, no doubt, on several other scores, too! These are generous but exacting people.)**

But the point is that I’ve tried to narrow my focus to my target audience. Too bad my poor, deluded spammers can’t learn the same lesson.

Yours Truly,

A Female, Married Heterosexual Who Quit Wearing Watches A Long Time Ago

** Since this post went live, Colors of Deception has been published! The genre is listed as “Christian fantasy,” as both my editor and my publisher deemed it adult instead of YA. Click the link to get your paperback copy for $12.99 or your Kindle edition for $2.99!