Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Ordinary

Some writers tire of the question "where do you get your ideas"? In fairness, it's always struck me as the wrong question. The real answer is that ideas come from everywhere. One example I mentioned earlier in this blog was my "Torcher's Tale", which came from a miswritten sign carried by a panhandler ("victim of government torcher"). Its followup, "The Drowned Hero Returns" came from a story about deceased baseball great Roberto Clemente. I've had ideas that came from other fiction, from new stories, from street signs, from half-heard bits of conversation on the train. I've retold fairy tales. I can think of several writers who've retold Tolkien's Lord of the Rings with various levels of artistic and commercial success (one of my favorites of is Jacqueline Carey's Sundering duology, which tells a Tokienesque tale from the point of view of a dark lord. But I digress).

Ideas, in other words, are not in short supply. They are ubiquitous. Commonplace. Ordinary.

What is in short supply is the hard work to get from an idea to a finished story. Part of the job of being a writer is taking inspiration and playing with it, seeing where it gets you. Here's a short-short I tossed together, inspired by Hemingway's famous :six-word story: "For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn." Not much simpler and more ordinary than a pair of baby shoes. Of course, this isn't really a story, but it's a great seed for a story. Here's one direction in which it could go. It's still not much more than an outline, but it's fun.


For Sale
by Leonard C Suskin, 250 words

March 21st
Marketplace > For Sale > Sports/entertainment

Mets season tickets for the upcoming season. Looking to sell all home games in May (twelve games total). Great seats, but I simply won’t have the time.

I hope you enjoy them.



June 9th

Marketplace.com > For Sale > Baby and Childcare

Breast pump, new in box.

Study after study has shown the importance of breast milk for babies’ health. Give your little one the best chance, and share the joy of feeding him this most nutritious and beneficial food. Even better, let your husband or partner help share in this important part of baby’s growth!


July 7th
Marketplace > For Sale > Sports/entertainment

Mets season tickets. Looking to sell all Saturday and Sunday dates for the remainder of the season.

Date: August 2nd
To: AFriedman19@Yahoo.com
From: Janet Benson
Subject: First steps


Thought you’d want to see the attached video. First steps!

I’m sure you’ll get to see more this weekend. See you Friday.



August 2nd

Marketplace.com > For Sale > Baby and Childcare

Baby shoes, never worn.

This is a pair of high-quality, handmade shoes in the smallest size, suitable for a baby two months old. Navy blue color may be best suited for a boy, but nobody will know what color they used to be after you have them bronzed.

Original cost $60, but will take best offer.



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