Saturday, August 8, 2009


I chose this photo of the author Anne Sexton to head my post because she's a dead ringer for my mother-in-law. Reason enough, me thinks.             

I think I’ve written on this subject matter before, but what the heck, I’m inclined to revisit the topic. I keep a folder on my desktop titled, “Possible Stories”, which is self-explanatory. When I find myself stumped for something to write about I go fishing around for ideas, opening the folder and looking for inspiration. Yesterday I came across a doc titled “Bone Head”. Hmm, I thought, that sounds interesting. So I clicked my mouse—that’s all there was though—those two mystifying words and no explanation of what direction to go in. What did I have in mind at the time when I saved those two words? For the life of me, I couldn’t recall. Did I find inspiration? Sadly, no. I couldn’t come up with a thing.

Moving right along, (I’m not one to dwell on something that isn’t sparking my interests or serving my needs, I clicked on another title. I chose “The Helpful One”. At least there was a sentence under the title. One lonely sentence that read: My sister Marty was favored by Mother because she was the helpful one in our family. Okay. What do I do with that? My brain wouldn’t light. Now, that’s not saying that at a future date I won’t come back and read those same words and not be inspired. It just didn’t fire my rockets yesterday.

The next interesting prospect had a much longer title, “Fred Won’t Ever Find That Rainbow”. My explanation for the story read like this: An ex wife is constantly putting down her husband to her children. They prefer him to her, and she knows it. She’s a bitter woman. Conversely, the father is a charismatic dreamer. Now this one had wings. Maybe because my mother was always putting down my father, even before they were divorced, and I felt as if I could sink my teeth right into this storyline. In my mother’s eyes the man couldn’t do anything right. And yet, other people admired Pop, they followed him, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that some even worshipped him. But good old Mom, she never missed an opportunity to disparage the poor guy. So, I’d found my story subject. Now it was up to me to craft something that people might find engaging and entertaining. Maybe by reading my story they might even learn something.

All Rights Reserved. © 2009 by Elizabeth Bradley.


Elspeth Antonelli said...

It's been my experience that people disparage others because of feelings of jealousy. It's a 'pay attention to ME' ploy. Not terribly healthy. Can be very hurtful. But very, very human.

Best of luck with the story! The 'helpful' child one is fascinating; hope it germinates for you soon.

And re your blog yesterday, I had the same issues and I use a Mac as well. Very frustrating.

Rick said...

Hello, Elizabeth. What a great idea to have a folder named "Possible Stories." I know that somewhere over the years I should have conceived the idea, but I'm just going to say that I'm happy to have learned this idea from you and go put it to use!

Thanks much.

Cloudia said...

Yay! Blogger is working again!
Yes, I live on my boat and have posted about "boat life" drveral times. So nice to read your blog - and to see you at mine ;-)
Comfort Spiral

Woman in a Window said...

You do not have a folder of possible ideas! See? There is a difference between dabbler and successful writer. Me - dabbler. You, well you get the point.

I don't know that I could go back. If I don't write it as it occurs I'm spent.

We could all learn something from that story.

Tabitha Bird said...

I really like the idea of having a 'possible stories file'. Right now I just scribble in a note book. I am glad you found a story that had wings. I am looking for one myself... none flying around me so far :)

Marguerite said...

Bonjour Elizabeth, It is a great idea to keep a folder of "possible ideas". The trouble is that I have too many of these folders and not enough room to store them. Sounds like a really good story brewing. I'll look forward to it!

Lauri Kubuitsile said...

Elizabeth, how funny- I have almost an exact same file on my desktop but it's called 'story stems', stories that started but stopped after a line, a paragraph, a page. I also go back there every once in awhile looking for ideas, to see if any of the stories have grown legs.
Great minds and all that....Good luck with the story!

Miss Footloose said...

As a fellow writer, I also love my "possible stories" file. Over the years I have collected strange bits and pieces written on scraps of paper or torn from magazines and paper. Sometimes, looking through my collection, I have no clue what I was thinking of when I wrote or saved a particular scrap. Since it is obvious my creative thoughts don't always keep hanging around, I have now become a little more elaborate in writing or typing my inspirational thoughts for the file.

The Victorian Parlor said...

Sounds like an interesting story! I find that inspiration just kind of hits me (usually when I can't sit down to write) so I like the idea of keeping a file with which to refer. I tend to jot down thoughts as they come but sometimes when I go back later to work on it nothing happens.



Suldog said...

I have a few pages in my notebook filled with cryptic titles. With most I recall what I wanted to write about, but some are as much a mystery to me as yours are to you. My biggest mystery would be the title "Um... God?" No doubt it was something marvelous :-)

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Elspeth--"The Helpful One" could prove to be interesting, down the road.

Rick--I do hope a similar file will serve you well!

Cloudia--Stay afloat during that storm, girl!

Woman In A Window--Ideas come in such rapid succession sometimes, I can't keep up, and I don't want to lose a sprout that might flower into a worthwhile story.

Maruerite--I'm sure you have many fantastic stories brewing, and I look forward to reading them.

Lauri--Ooh, I love that term, story stems.

Miss Footloose--You make a significant point, I need to elaborate more. The cryptic notes just aren't cutting the mustard.

Kim--Sounds like you've got a great system.

Suldog--"Um...God" sounds intriguing. I think.

Cheryl said...

I like that last idea! Reminds me, in a way, of the Secret Life of Walter Mitty (story, not the movie), except the wife in your story sounds more complex, conflicted, with a hidden agenda (hidden even from herself) rather than merely unimaginative.

I have a file of stories I want to write too - and trying not to feel guilty about not having written them yet.

Nancy said...

I have a notebook with possible ideas for blogs. Things sometimes seem so inspiring when you jot them down, only to be dry when being revisited.

This one may have wings, though.