Let’s all say what we love most about this picture. I’m thinking something along the lines of the creativity of children, their unabashed bravery, or the fact that Jake is screaming like this porch ramp is a world-class roller coaster.
Sledding on splinters in April. Sometimes the ideas just flow, don’t they?
It happened to me the other day. I was watching a DVD special feature. I’ve gotten TONS of inspiration watching DVD special features. I adore them. They make me want to be in movies even more than I normally want to be in them.
It was for the movie The Switch in which Jennifer Aniston’s character – GASP – has a baby via a seed guy instead of a husband. You may have noticed a slight upheaval in the force around this time because Bill O’Reilly said it was irresponsible of her to promote a life choice like that and she said, What do I care what Bill O’Reilly says? Or something like that. And I say, did he watch the movie? Because if it was trying to promote a message that the non-traditional family is just as good as the traditional one, it did a really poor job. The movie practically screams, kids want a dad. But I’m getting off-topic, because none of that led to the ideas-just-flowing moment for me.
I was first inspired when the featurette told me that the movie was based on a short story from the New Yorker. Because, as you know, I get that magazine now. And I love it when dots connect like that, (i.e., the stuff I read could lead to anything, including future movies). But then the part I really liked. A guy was describing Jason Bateman’s character arc in the movie, and he said:
You might be in New York and be a totally narcissistic, material, career-oriented person; but given enough time and people who intrude in your life, if you open up to it, you have a chance of becoming a much better person than you were in the beginning.
And this was the inspiring thing, because I think people write fiction for different reasons, and this reminded me why I want to write it.
I used to not know what I wanted to write at all. I didn’t know what audience I wanted to write for. I didn’t know what I wanted to say to them or how I wanted to say it. But now, I do know those things.
Some people write fiction, I think, because their head is full of imaginative characters and mysteries and plot twists. My head, though, is full of things like this quote. Things like: Isn’t it cool that people can change? And, Unlikely friendships are the most beautiful ones. And, Sometimes we think our purpose is one thing and life shows us, it’s another. And fiction lets me wrap up those ideas in a million different packages – or several anyway – and tell them in story form, with many different characters and padded with many different settings and details.
This is the challenge: To tell the story without worrying whether the reader can state my idea back to me. Because if they can, I haven’t told a story – I’ve told a sermon.
When I got the attention of my literary agent I’d never tried this before, except in short stories – and only one or two of those. I was used to stating my ideas flat out, like a blog post or a memoir. So I’m still learning the story way. But that comment reminded me how thrilling that challenge is, how awesome it will be someday for someone to talk about a story I told and get from it the idea that I started with in the first place. But also, how amazing it will be if they get a wholly different idea as well, because the characters were just that real to them and the story that full of possibility.