POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE
The Good Ideas
By Nandy Ekle
Everybody walks past a thousand story ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.
— Orson Scott Card
So where are these thousands of ideas? Everything in your world is the same as it’s always been. The kids fight. The office is business as usual. Dinner must be cooked, kids must be bathed and you finally crawl into bed. Then it starts all over tomorrow.
So where are these thousands of ideas? Everything in your world is the same. Why are the kids fighting? One kid wants his turn on the game console. The solution in the past has always been to give each one a time limit by setting a timer. When the timer dings, he must pass the controller to the next child in line. Only, when the timer goes off, he’s in the middle of a puzzle and nowhere near a saving point. It would be a horrible injustice to force the boy to give up the controller and lose it all. But it’s also not fair to the girl who’s been waiting her turn patiently. So the rule is made that the player must save as soon as possible (within the next three minutes) or allow his character to die. From your place in the other room you suddenly hear the waiting child blurts out, “Will you just die already!”
At the office, business as usual. You boot up your computer and read your email. Pushing the “get work” button, you read a request from a client for a detailed history of every payment ever made. But you’ve been trained and written several of these letters in the past. No problem. You open the other program and realize the client has more than ten payments, each with six different steps to report.
After a day of writing challenging letters, you walk in the door and greet the four other people living in your house–and they all have a starved look deep in their eyes. Oh no! You forgot to thaw something for dinner. Opening the fridge you find a bit of soup, a bag of salad, one and a half carton of eggs, and a couple of bowls of undetermined something.
The kids must be bathed. Yes, they are old enough to bathe themselves, but they must also be coerced to do it. You manage to pull the two wrestling children apart and march them to the bathroom. As you start the water running, the younger one says, “Guess what my brother told me about where babies come from.”
You finally crawl into bed. Exhaustion has crept all through your body and brain. Laying on your back with your head on your pillow, your eyes refuse to close. You have characters running through your head accusing you of all kinds of negligence toward them and their stories. You beg their forgiveness, you’re just too tired to think anymore. But your eyes still don’t close.
Mr. Card was right. There are thousands of story ideas every day. Just change your perspective.
Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.