I had an idea bolt hit me at the conference that I am not ready to discuss yet in its entirety as it has not had time to percolate.  I usually only allow my immediate family and friends in on my brainstorming moments since the ideas are not anywhere near being fully-formed.

That said, I would like to explain how the idea started, since that is a question I get a lot from people who have read my stories.  Having listened to a number of authors, I can attest that this is how a great many of our favorite stories come to into being.  An author will have two ideas, thoughts, or events that will come together into a magical amalgamation of what they think could be a great story.  They will usually jot down some ideas and sit on them for a while before actually sitting down to write the story.  Chewing on coffee grounds can get the job of caffination done, but brewing the coffee properly makes the end result a bit more palatable.  The same can be said of a good story idea.  Let it steep for a while.

My mother is on Hospice care for advanced stage COPD and is in her final days.  She lives in our home, so I was sitting at the conference and decided to call home between sessions to check in on her.  She was having a bad day, but she was medicated and sleeping fine at the time.  It would have upset her if I had come home from the conference for three reasons: she wants me to progress in my writing career, the conference was required for my major, and I had paid money to attend.  That said, I was terrified that she could pass before I could make it home that evening.  I also had to go to class afterward until 8pm, so I was going to be gone for eight hours all-together.

Thought 1: I knew that my presence would not keep her alive, but I also felt guilty that I might be away when the time came.  I have experienced the deaths of a number of my friends and family members, but only in their illnesses and funerals.  Somehow I have never actually been in the room as someone died.  I always am either on my way, have just left, or am asleep.  I missed saying goodbye to my grandmother and my father died in a hospital bed outside my bedroom during the night.

Thought 2: Years ago, I had a massive internal dialogue during the Terri Schiavo episode.  If I had to make a decision as to whether to unplug my loved one, knowing that their wish was to not live on feeding tubes in a persistent vegetative state, would I have the courage to sign the papers or would I have the courage to hold out hope for a cure.  The problem was that I viewed both sides with equal validity.  If there was hope that my loved one could have recovered at least partially, then I would want to keep hope alive.  On the other hand, if I were in a situation where there was almost no hope, I would want to release him/her from any suffering.

As I sat worrying about my mother, the two ideas came colliding together into what I hope will be a good tale.  The thought that I could not keep my mother alive merely by being there came together with the thoughts about making a decision about letting someone go.  As most ideas occur, this one came about as a “what if” scenario.  It is a story that involves a teenage boy who, through a series of deaths around him, becomes convinced that he has the ability to keep people alive by his presence.  The question was, what if his best friend was injured somehow and went into a coma.  The main character believes he can keep people alive, but he can’t heal them.  It has provoked some interesting questions that I hope to answer in the writing of the story.  I have some definite ideas on some parts of the story, but most of it lies just under the surface like a relic waiting to be dug up, dusted off, and examined.

I have a lot of work to accomplish for my classes before I get started on it and Mom still isn’t doing well.  Wish me well.

Mom and me dancing in 2006


"I hate to be a nag, but you have got to read. Like most authors, I run creative writing workshops from time to time, and speak, when invited to writers’ circles and at summer schools, and I’m continually amazed at the number of would-be writers who scarcely read. For ideas to germinate and proliferate there has to be fertile ground to sow them in, and for the ground to be fertile it must be mulched with observation, imagination, and other writing."

~ Sarah Harrison


Listening to: Courtney Dickinson – Falter