Broken Appliances, Long Flights, and the Miracle of Inspiration

I seem to find inspiration in weird places; like the laundromat for instance.  Just before I left for Yellowstone, the heating element in my dryer went kaput.  With only a day for turn around on clean underwear (the most essential item for me to have on any trip), I was forced to either hang-dry all my clothes, or go in search of a coin-operated dryer.  I guess I could have gone to my mom’s house, but she and my step-dad were on their boat, and I can’t ever get the code to their security system right.

When I do laundry at home, I’m stunned at the number of times I’m struck by a great idea for a story.  Sometimes it’s a terrific plot twist, and sometimes it’s a bit of dialog.  On occasion, I’m hit with a plot concept all while sorting whites from colors from delicates.  It’s funny, but it seems to work this way for a lot of writers – ideas come from the deep recesses of our brain, bubbling up when we are occupied with the mundane.  Some writers get ideas in the shower, or while driving.  For me, it’s laundry.  Go figure.

Of course long plane rides do this to me, too.  Sitting in the rigid-back seat, avoiding the typically obnoxious person next to me, I am able to tap into those deeply hidden ideas that are leaking through the cracks of my consciousness.  It’s so fun, at least to me, to feel the onset of an idea that has potential, feel it slither into my awareness and begin to take shape.  That’s one of the reasons I keep notebooks stashed all over my house, and in my purse, and in my car.  I love writing those bits of inspiration down and locking them on paper before they can escape. It’s like catching butterflies in a net and then transferring them to a big jar to investigate later.

I used to think this was a completely magical process, but I understand the way that memory and senses work to cultivate inklings into ideas, and ideas into stories.  When I need to, I can call up that muse on demand, but it is so much more fun when the thoughts drift in unbidden, like a surprise gift or money in the mail you hadn’t expected.  It’s almost as good as when my hubby brings me flowers for no reason! Or better yet, chocolate covered strawberries (very inspiring, if totally devastating to my diet).

So a playful little idea struck me while my clothes were drying, and it expanded and got better as I listened to my iPod between Salt Lake and Chicago.  Then, between Chicago and Burlington, it clarified and became a solid story line.  Now I’m in Montpelier, back in school for a Master’s workshop and serving for 10 days as a graduate assistant, and I am in my writing “home” so to speak.  There is so much about this place that inspires me, makes me want to sit at my computer and create for hours and hours.  I’m looking forward to the lectures, the guest speakers, and the opportunity to take this new concept on a journey and see where it goes!

More soon – guaranteed!

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