Monday, March 13, 2006

My idea puddle

Seeing standing water on our patio makes my hunk o' burnin' love a little crazy because that means the drain isn't working efficiently. But I liked the reflections I saw yesterday in this rain puddle. Although I was supposed to be doing something else, I stood at my office window for a good fifteen minutes staring at this perfect mirror image of some nearby winter-bared trees.

Those of you who don't write fiction often ask where story ideas come from. Sometimes they come from rain puddles. As I gazed into this one, I fell headlong into a daydream, and now I have a fresh idea for a scene I've been working on.

Story ideas can come from anywhere. But they'll fly at a writer thick and fast when she gives herself permission to indulge in frequent daydreaming--even when she's supposed to be doing other things.

I feel a little pang of regret when I recall what my teachers wrote on my grade-school report cards: Brenda is too easily distracted. She needs to stop looking out the window. It wasn't until I was 45 years old and first tried my hand at writing a novel that I began seeing my propensity to daydream as a strength rather than a character flaw. So I hate knowing that somewhere right now, a teacher is writing those same crushing words on some distractible, daydreaming kid's report card.

I hope that child doesn't take as long as I did to figure out that her life will be richer once she learns to stop feeling guilty about those impulses to stare into rain puddles.


jel said...

cool picture,
dream on girl! :)

Michelle Pendergrass said...

I just found this the other night.

Let me know what you think. I'm with you. Some of my teachers crushed my dreams. More people tore them down than built them up. I want to make sure I never do that.

Although I find it sad that it took a long time to find this stuff out, I'm glad I found out and can be something for someone out there hurting.

Lisa said...

I've always said I'm living in my own little dreamworld.

My son has been told by his teachers, on more than one occasion, to stop daydreaming and start working.

Sometimes, it's during those daydreams that we do our best work. :-)

Great picture, Brenda.

Brenda Coulter said...

Michelle, the article is longer than I have time to seriously consider today, so I just skimmed it. I think the author leaned too hard on the "writing as self- psychoanalysis" idea. It's much simpler than that for me. It is about creative expression and challenging myself to succeed at something that is incredibly difficult.

But I imagine he'd tell you I'm in denial. ;-)

Lisa, Albert Einstein was a "hopeless" daydreamer who did poorly in school. Yet we see parents and teachers who still don't understand that daydreaming is not a sign of laziness, but of a very active mind.