Following on Jo`s blog last week about what inspires us to write, I`d like to give any non-writers here an insight into the workings of a typical writer's brain. Well, my brain anyway...
I was travelling by train recently, when it stopped, for no apparent reason - as trains do. Glancing out of the window, I watched butterflies feeding on the flowering buddleia bushes near the track. Then my gaze wandered downwards, to the litter and rubble next to the rails. Amongst the debris lay a dead pigeon, or rather what was left of it: two flattened brown and white wings, neatly folded, and its legs. One of them bore an orange ring, with black numbers. My writing brain immediately took off, trailing a jumble of what-ifs and just-supposes...:
Was someone still waiting for the poor bird to return home? Maybe a pensioner hoping he'd won a prestigious pigeon race? Did the man live alone, and was this his last pigeon? Or did he have a nagging wife who wanted him to give up his hobby `cos it made a mess of the back yard? Would she get her way now?
How did the bird die? Did it fly so low as to hit a carriage window? Or did it tangle with a live wire? Was the train's journey affected by this in any way? Did one particular passenger arrive late for something? For what? With whom? And what consequences did that have?
Will Sam, the man in the high-viz overalls who clears the rubbish from the railway track, just pick up the corpse with a tong and drop it into a black bag, or is he a pigeon keeper himself and will prize off the ring and try and trace the owner? Does it turn out that the pigeon-keeper is his long-lost war-time pal Bert?
Supposing the colour of the ring proves it was based in, say, Italy? (Note to self: google racing pigeons, homing pigeons, rings - meanings of colours and numbers...). Maybe Sam decides to visit the owner and make a holiday of it. He meets this woman...
And the pigeon itself? Was it a male or a female pigeon? Is there a partner somewhere pining away? Will it accept a new partner - or will feathers fly?
This is the stuff that keeps us writers awake at night, and reaching for something to scribble on in the dark to jot something down, or staggering to the computer in our nighties at three in the morning.
But you as non-writers can stop this dead. It's so simple: All you've have to say is, "Well, actually, I read a book/saw a film/watched a play/ once about just that: someone finds a dead pigeon and...." Many writers will then throw their notebooks and pens up in the air, delete their hard drive and take up deep-sea stamp-collecting.
Until one of them glances out of a train window and catches a fleeting glimpse of a man digging a hole in his garden. Watched by his wife. Or is it his girlfriend? And why such a deep hole? In the half-dark too...
Anyone here ever written anything based on a chance remark, a glimpse, or the sight of something dead under a bush?