Sanding and thinking
Since I started the laborious and boring job of sanding I’ve had far too much time to think (and this is always a dangerous thing). Everyone knows why I sand doors and windows to fix them up for the RUC (ergo – I don’t want to live in a dump). I feel the same way about taking things that have happened in my life and writing about them. My mind is filled with the good and the bad and once I put pen to paper it’s like sanding and varnishing the doors of my mind.
I have a stack of doors in the (very messy) shed to sand, paint, or varnish as you can see below.
My life hasn’t been an easy road. Things have happened to me that would make your hair curl (and the last thing I want to do is take a hot iron to your hair – you know how clumsy I am!) But when I look back on my life and I open those doors I realise they’re all connected to the bigger picture – the house. Every good, bad, ugly and indifferent thing that has ever happened to me is behind one of those doors in my mind.
One of the doors in the RUC has a bullet hole in the glass – hmmm, there may be a few bullet holes in the glass doors in my mind as well. There is certainly a story behind this bullet hole and it intrigues me, so I might just leave it like that.
There’s a little bit of me in each of my stories (bullet holes included). My mother often asks me where I get my ideas for stories and this question in itself gave me an idea a few years ago.
When I published ‘Manslaughter and Other Tears‘ (a compilation of my short stories) I added some extra pages at the end of the book to explain why I wrote each story and where the idea came from. I’ve had a lot of great feedback about this (okay – so I’ve had great feedback from my mother), but I believe everyone should do this because it puts you behind the doors in the mind of the writer.
An example of this is from my story Unplugged. My explanation for writing this story is as follows:
Excerpt: (Why I wrote this story) – When my grandfather was ill I walked into his bedroom and kissed him on the cheek. I placed my hand on his chest to balance myself and his ribs were so exposed that it felt like I was touching a bird-cage. This scene was very unnerving as a child and I wondered why he was at home in his own bed instead of being ‘made better’ in a hospital. Of course I understand the reasons why now. I had not thought about this until many years later when I was on a bus. A young woman sat next to me (even though there were plenty of spare seats). She was talking to herself as if she was being interviewed. I asked her who she was talking to and she told me that there were cameras everywhere. She said that her life was being filmed. The cameras were invisible and the audience was the entire world. She told me she had just been at the hospital to see her grandfather who was dying and he thought she was a boy. She said the fact that he thought she was a boy was a test by the interviewers to see if she understood her true identity.
I really felt for her and wondered what it would be like to live for a day in her shoes.
I thought about the things that had happened to me in my life and wrote about a girl who thinks her life is being filmed. To put myself in her shoes I gave her ‘Wizard of Oz type’ ruby slippers. Hence the birth of the story Unplugged and a girl called Dorothy Gale.
This thought process seems easy to me and I often wonder if other people do it. When I read a story I sometimes stop and think,‘Where did the author get this idea? Was it through experience, or was it just ‘dropped in their head’ by their muse?
Do your ideas for writing or art or music come from opening the doors in your mind or does your muse just smack them in your face? Or is it a mixture of both?
Told you I was thinking too much…
Strangely enough, I saw this weeks weekly writing challenge is all about doors!