POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE
15 Minute Challenge
By Nandy Ekle
A writer’s job is to look for a story in ordinary, every day events. So, I like to play a game with myself when I’m driving. Whether I’m driving the 20 minute piece of road to my day job, walking around the grocery story throwing together meal plans for the week, or toodling down the highway for 13 hours to see my children, I look for anything that might spark my imagination.
Sometimes it takes some time to get a piece of a story. Like, there’s an empty field I drive by every day. But one day a tractor shows up and begins pounding a mound of dirt. A month later planks of wood seem to have grown from the flattened dirt mound. Walls begin to go up, and a roof grows seemingly over night. Pretty soon I find myself marveling because I can’t remember what it was like as an empty field. And I know I can make a story out the experience.
But there are also subtle things that I can’t tell if anyone else has noticed or not. Such as, I also pass an old empty, closed up store front building on a corner crossroads every weekday morning. It suddenly dawns on me as I pass by one morning that there’s always a white pick-up truck in the empty old parking lot, just sitting there, facing the street. Inside the truck is a person wearing a big white cowboy hat. That’s all I can tell about this person. I think this is a man, but have never seen his face. He’s not there when I pass it in the afternoon on my way home. And he’s not there when I pass the corner on the weekend going out to run my errands. He doesn’t wave, he doesn’t get out of the car, and no other cars or people are around him. I have no idea who he is or why he’s there. And that, my friends, is a burning log of story ready to pop.
So here’s my challenge to you, dear blog readers. The next time you’re going to be driving, turn on the video camera in your phone and record 15 minutes of driving down the road. You might be surprised at the everyday weirdness you never even knew you were seeing.
Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.