The End of the Long Weekend and Talking About Ideas

Take Back September-Day 5

Working my way through the edits on the CNE photos from last week. I wanted to share one of my favourites so far.

Today was spent doing mostly two things. Working and being with M. 

M and I made the drive back from Kitchener, and once I arrived in Oshawa I headed straight into the office.

Being the holiday Monday, the place was deserted, quiet, peaceful, serene, you pick your word. In short, I was able to get in a solid five hours of writing and layout done for this week’s edition. I left the office feeling fantastic, despite the fact that a storm was starting to roll in over the city.

We spent the evening eating our weight in Thai food and watching movies.

So, I wanted to talk about something else today, something inspired by my late-night drive home from M’s place.

Let me set the scene.

The darkness is almost fluid.

The world outside the car is fresh with rain, the pavement beneath my headlights looking like its coated in slick oil instead of fresh rainfall.

My mind is far off. There’s work, there’s writing, there’s production, and there’s whether I will see M at all this week.

The trees close in on either side of the country road and I flick on my high beams.

As I do, my heart clenches in my chest and my fingers grip the wheel. There’s a man walking along the side of the road.

At first, I think he’s wearing a black suit and thoughts of Stephen King’s The Man in the Black Suit rush into my head.

He doesn’t hold out a thumb, doesn’t even acknowledge the car, just keeps walking, his head down.

Eerie.

So, the entire rest of the drive home I was thinking about potential story ideas for this situation.

What the hell was he doing there? Who was he? Where was he going?

All of these questions could easily turn themselves into a short story. Naturally, with it being dark and stormy outside my brain was thinking horror stories, but I’m sure there’s other things there too.

I want to talk about ideas, because it’s a question I get often. Where do my ideas come from?

I think all writers get this question, A LOT.

And my answer is always the same, I get them from everywhere.

However, I’ve found a new analogy that I think works really well, and it lets me talk about skateboarding, so that’s awesome.

When I first started skateboarding, it was like the world had completely changed. I began to look at everything differently. ANYTHING could be a good skate spot.

All of the plazas, schools, shopping malls, parking lots, hockey arenas, all of the places I had frequented so often in my life, now took on new life as I judged them for their skateboarding potential.

And immediately when entering a new town or city, the first thing I would do would be to hunt for skate spots. Even now, I’ll drive by a see a nice set of stairs, a ledge or hand rail and think that would be a sweet spot to skate.

Well, in that same way that skateboarding changed my viewpoint, fiction writing does the same.

Countless times a day I’m thinking that certain interactions, places, or people would be excellent for stories. That is not an exaggeration, this happens to me at least 15 times a day. It’s all I think about.

However, the best stories always come from making a connection between two seemingly disconnected things. I’m not the first to say this either, an iteration of this idea is shared by Mr King in his memoir.

Let’s take my drive home for example, the man walking on the side of the road, in the rain, in a suit (if he’d been wearing a suit). This walking in the rain on the side of a country road and the man in the suit seem to have no place being together, but yet there they were. It’s those things that make for intriguing stories.

Perhaps I should write that one?

Okay, it’s Tuesday morning now, and I’m just about to head into the office. There’s a full day of production and putting this newspaper together before press deadline.

I hope you all had an amazing long weekend and with the unofficial end of summer behind us, it’s time to start prepping for fall. Can’t wait!

Thanks for reading!

J.J.W.