Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Things I'm thinking about...

About a year ago, I started jotting down overheard conversations, quotes, and factoids that stuck with me. They aren't novel ideas. They're just little stories that resonate with me for some reason. Perhaps because they get at something deep inside me that puzzles me or fascinates me. The hope is that if I write them down, I'll remember them. And if I remember them, then maybe they'll simmer in my subconscious, and some day produce the grain of a novel idea.

At least, that's the theory...

I've been revisiting these jottings lately as I think about what my next writing project will be. I'm in the enviable position of having too many ideas, not too few!

So I thought I'd share a few of my favorite jottings. Feel free to borrow any that strike you as well! Please also feel free to share in the comments any things you've heard or seen recently which have struck you.

"In a good play, everyone is right." Friedrich Hebbel

Scientists have said a 16th century French king's mistress died from gold poisoning. She tried to preserve her youth by drinking liquid gold. Apparently her body was so saturated with the mineral, even her hair was tinted gold (here's a link to an article about this, in case you're interested).

"Maybe the hardest part of being a kid is feeling like there's all this stuff happening in the world, and you're not really empowered to do anything about it. You can't vote yet. You don't work yet (at least not full-time) so you don't have a lot of money to donate to help other people's efforts to fix problems. You can't just pick up and fly somewhere to help out in places where people need help. I mean, you're a kid, living at home, going to school. What can you do?" Lee Wind, for his blog I'm Here, I'm Queer, What the Hell Do I Read?, an intro to his post: Back To School: An Interview with Ethan, Who Started the Non-Profit "The AIDS Cure" when he was 11!

"I used to LOVE answering the “What Do You Do” question when I was a Faberge expert at a famous auction house in New York City. Then I left that job and tried to write freelance, which meant that I had to get a job as a receptionist at a hedge fund in Manhattan (making 30% more there, answering phones, than I did when I was inspecting Frank Sinatra’s Russian works of art) and my Working Class Code of Ethics forced me to always grit my teeth and answer the “What Do You Do” question with “Receptionist” — I never tried to excuse myself by adding that I USED to be IMPORTANT. It was hard: I was single and over 40 and trying to find a husband. About the difference between being a Faberge expert and a receptionist, I could write a book." Written by Vivian Swift in response to a question posed by Betsy Lerner on her blog, The Forest for the Trees: "when people ask you what you do, what do you say, do you say: I’m a writer?"


  1. I like jotting down what I hear, not for the conversations per se, but for the voice, for unusual expressions, etc.—more for dialogue and character than for story. Yet, there ARE lots of stories in overheard conversations, too, especially when you peel the layers down and get to what's underneath There can be volumes in a single remark.

  2. Oh, you're absolutely right, Andrea. I often forget about jotting down character/setting type observations, but those are equally useful.


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