Sunday, July 11, 2010

There's a Cow in My Bedroom and Other Changes

I'm in a motel in Wisconsin on my way to what is my first, almost vacation only travel in a few years. After being in the room for a couple of hours last night I looked up and there is a huge photo of two cows hanging above the desk. How did I miss that for two whole hours? They are very cute.

So that's the way I sometimes feel about ideas and stories. The most obvious things can be right in front of you and you never notice.Forty eight hours ago I was in Arkansas and a very savvy reading professor, Ken Stamatis, asked about my blog. I told him I had one but that lately (or mostly) I'm a very bad blogger. Bad blogger (slaps hand). I hadn't blogged for months. He pretty much made me promise to start up again, and here's where the cows come in, promise. He directed me toward a new audience - student readers and writers. Cows in my bedroom. No, I'm not saying students or teachers are cows, but that as a former teacher and professional writer, I hadn't thought of blogging for you. Now I am. So to my friends and professional writer friends, come along. Comment all you want. We are going to share tips, and daily insight (or not - ahem) and just what I'm doing to work on books and career with readers and writers. We are going to start a discussion on our own unique experiences and the stories they produce.

So today, my husband and I are driving to the Upper Penninsula of Michigan. My sister is excited because that's where Ernest Hemmingway spent many summers. I'm excited to meet up with our son. And today, after years of searching for it, we are going to visit my grandmother's grave. She died when my father was six and he had few memories of her. Only her name really. My grandfather, her husband suffered from dementia by the time I was old enough to remember him. I got no information from him. So after years of looking in old records and crawling around a few cemetaries in Wisconsin five years ago, last Tuesday I got an e-mail from a lovely woman in Oneida County with the location of the grave. Today, I'm taking flowers. I'm pretty sure no one has visited in at least thirty years - maybe in almost a hundred. What does this have to do with readers and writers?

The Point: My story ideas come from lots and lots of places, but the best ones are ideas that won't leave me alone - like finding some piece of this grandmother's life to hold onto. I've never seen a photo - they all burned in a fire a couple years after she died. With only her name, and this desire to know about her, I wrote a whole novel that started with the day she was buried (I didn't know where then) and I made the rest of it up. That novel isn't published but I hope someday a version of it will be. It's a story I love. It isn't true but it started with a little truth and an idea that I couldn't let go.

INVITATION: Teachers - if you are working on writing this year, why not have your class follow and comment on this blog? I'll try to include tips and ideas and a peek into the writers life and I'd love to hear from you and your class. Let the discussion begin!!


Naomi Canale said...

Oh how great that you found your grandmothers grave! She'll be so delighted to see those beautiful flowers you are bringing for her. Enjoy Suzy and I hope to read that manuscript one day. xo

Ellen Hopkins said...

That novel needs to publish one day. Always did love it.

Vaquerogirl said...

Again- I applaud you for blogging! I am not professional in my blogging, but I do admire it in others! I want to hear what you have to say, Maybe I'll even be inspired again! C'mon Suzy! Write write blog blog!