Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ideas Come To Us At The Strangest Times

Passenger Train 


Ideas come to us at the strangest times. Yesterday, I was at a meeting of a group I belong to at our old renovated train station. A woman who is curator of our local history museum spoke about the history of the station and trains in our community. She had some interesting photos and her talk was interesting and informative. 

After she finished, she asked us to share stories about trains in our lives. I found myself spiraling back in time to my growing up years when trains were our main form of transportation, other than our family car. I told the group about a memorable train trip I took at age 5 with my mother, grandmother and little brother. We traveled from Chicago to Phoenix on a troop train in 1944. The four of us shared a small compartment but during the daytime, I was allowed free rein in our car. Up and down the aisle I went talking to the soldiers who gifted me with more gum and candy than any little girl might want. There was much more that I remember about that trip which would have taken too much time to tell them.

But as I thought about that trip, other train excursions came to mind. My parents sent my brother and me to Minnesota alone by train when I was about 8 and Howard was 4. We had to change trains two times before reaching our destination so my dad gave a porter $5 to see that we got on the next train alright. I remember the porter so well. His name was Lemuel. "That's from the bible," he told us. He spent a lot of time with us and he made sure we got on the right train when it was time to connect. He must have handed the responsibility on to the next porter, as he also made sure we got on the correct train for the third leg of our journey to visit our great-aunt and great-uncle on a farm in southwestern Minnesota. 

It dawned on me that I could write a memoir piece about the role trains played in my life. I thought of two or three other trips by rail that could be incorporated into the story. My mind has been active last night and this morning thinking about how I'd write the piece and what to include. I definitely plan to act on my idea. It would be something that could be published but also a good addition to my Family Stories book. 

Ideas come to us at the strangest times. Yes, I know I said that at the beginning but it's what today's post is all about so it bears repeating. It's most likely happened to you when you least expected it. The important thing is to continue thinking about the idea and then act on it. Get a first draft written. Wait a few days and then revise and edit. By then, you may have come up with more to add or decided to eliminate some nonrelevant part. 

Ideas come to us at the strangest times. Has an idea for a story come to you when you had insomnia? There you are, tossing and turning, can't turn your mind off and sudenly--an idea for a poem or a story comes rolling through your mind. Will it be there in the morning? Maybe not so it's best to jot down the main idea right away. That's reason enough to keep a notepad and pen on your bedside table. 

Ideas come to us at the strangest times.  You could be walking through a mall and the smell of chocolates waft out the door of a little candy shop as you pass by. It could be enough to trigger your great love of chocolates and the lengths you went to as a child to get them. Perfect addition for your Family Stories book. This is when you want to have a small notebook in your purse or pocket so you can jot down enough to get you started when you have access to your computer. 

Ideas come to us at the strangest times. You might be hiking in the mountains or swimming at a beach when an idea for a story about same comes to mind. You're not able to get started on the story at that point. Keep on with your walk or your swim but let your mind mull over the possibilities for writing a memoir piece or a family story or personal essay. When you get to a place where you can jot down the main points, do so, then keep on enjoying your vacation time. Start writing when you get home.

Don't let that momentary inspiration pass on by. It's up to you to act on the idea once it enters your mind, no matter where or when or how. Be ready because ideas come to us at the strangest times.

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