Friday, October 19, 2007

Hello Blog, It's me, Danita


So, here it is, blog day, and me without a single thing to wear. I mean a single thing to say. Oh, I'm sure I could think of plenty to yak on and on about, given the right set of listening ears and a nice hot cup of Earl Grey to wrap my fingers around, but would any of that yakking pertain to writing? Probably not. Which puts my round peg right back to into the square one hole.

Hey! That gives me an idea -- thank you, blog, I needed one of those -- what about a book about a serial killer who kept track of his "conquests" with a peg on a cribbage board? Or, more twisted yet, what if the killer kept track of his victims on one of those kiddy toys, you know, the kind with the pegs that toddlers bang down into the holes with a plastic hammer?

Wait, wait! What if the killer were a woman? And what if that woman were a mother herself, and she used her own child's pegs and hammer toy? And what if to all the world, this woman appeared to be a caring and devoted mother to her children? Why would a good mother want/need to kill? Who would her victims be? Would they be men who had jilted her in the past? Cheated on her? Beat her? Maybe in her younger life, she was a runaway who turned to prostitution to support her babies, and now she is seeking revenge on the Johns who took advantage of her situation.

Okay, okay, sick and twisted, I'll agree. But also, maybe sort of interesting. And alive with possibilities. It could be written into a screenplay for CSI if done skillfully enough. And the idea grew out of the common words "round peg" and "square hole".

Which brings me to the point, if indeed, this post actually has a point -- how or where do you get your ideas? Do they flutter in on a sultry spring breeze, or clunk you in the noggin like a tumbling anvil? Do you "idea" best in the shower, while scrubbing the tub, or while driving and humming along to Nickelback, dreaming of being a rock star?

Please share.


Elisabeth Naughton said...

*sigh* I love Nickelback, and yes, I wanna be a Rockstar, too. I'm that terrible mother you mentioned - wait, not THAT terrible! But bad enough. When my five year old walked in the house one day and started singing, "I'm gonna dress my ass with the lastest fashions..." my hubby loudly announced Nickelback was not appropriate for the children and that I needed to find a new CD to listen to in the car.

What was the topic again? Oh yeah, ideas. Mine come to me like yours, Danita. A spark that just keeps tumbling out of control. My current wip started with a question: what if a single woman wanted to get pg, went to a fertility dr. who steered her to anonymous donation, only later to get suspicious about the fertility dr's methods? What if the dr. was crooked? What if the dr. was creating a designer donor bank? What if he was experimenting on unsuspecting women - esp. single ones w/o curious husbands? What if the sperm donors themselves (smart, rich, famous people), didn't realize they were actually donors? What would happen if this woman stumbled on his plan and he found out? I play the what-if game a lot to come up with ideas.

Danita Cahill said...

Sorry to be so late in posting. I had a Dr. appnt. (routine exam) first thing this morning and didn't get back until awhile ago.

I went back through the week's posts and commented. Sorry to be so late on that too. I just reached my quota, so that's all the appologies you'll be getting from me today. ha!

Danita Cahill said...

Yes, I think about that same thing, Eli. Soon D will be old enough to sing along with some of the R rated lyrics we listen to, and understand some of the language on the movies we watch and we'll be in for a dozen or so years of animated Disney programming. I've been through years of that once I'm enjoying my time while I've got it.

I love the What If game. It's as much fun as the actual writing, don't you think? Maybe more fun.

Your WIP sounds fascinating. Can't wait to read it.

Alice Sharpe said...

My life is so lame I have been checking this site on and off all day. I mean, when a person has a deadline and it's staring her in the face, a little diversion is a good thing. I was actually sitting here trying to justify a hot bath after I have already taken a shower, when I looked one more time, and yea!, there this is.

Oh, goody.

Where do ideas come from? I was thinking about this the other day and decided I would look back at one of my books and see if I could figure out what came first, the chicken or the egg or the round hole or the square peg.

So, WIP. The original idea came from an article in the paper this summer about a cop who killed someone in a small town nearby. I had two cops staying with me and they read the paper and started talking to each other. They read the details of the article I might have passed by, looking for proper procedure and probable cause and all that stuff. And I got to wondering what would happen to a decent young cop who shot someone because he saw a gun but then there was no gun when they went to look.

So, of course, that leads to where did the gun go, who took the gun, what kind of person would be most affected. And somewhere else in all that, I got to wondering about adult children of alcoholics and if my cop was a control freak, the brother who put a public face on his dysfunctional family, how much worse something like this might seem to him.

So, for me, an idea blossoms into all the other what ifs, making the right characters to fit the world or in another case, perhaps, the right world to fit the characters.

Thanks for the diversion, Danita, and glad to see that even though you do not currently feel like a writer, you are thinking and writing like one.

Danita Cahill said...

I love listening to cops talk amongst themselves too, Alice. They really do see the world different, don't they? My parents were best friends with a couple -- he was an undercover narcotics officer, and she was a dispatcher. They were both so funny. He with an especially dry sense of humor, and she with a sexual undertone to everything she said, which was especially humorous, looking back on it now with adult eyes, because she was a short, round little thing without a lot of sex appeal, but her mannerism and her sense of humor made her appealing to men.

Wow, I sort of strayed off subject there, didn't I? Your book sounds interesting and reminds me of a lethal training class I had last year where they show of video of scenerios and we were to decide if we should draw our weapon. One showed a woman driver involved in a police chase. She finally pulled over, got out of the car and pointed her cell phone at the officers. What an idiotic thing for that woman to do. It totally looked like she was holding a gun. Luckily, she wasn't shot.

Karen Duvall said...

Cheers to all the Nickelback lovers! I play their latest CD in my car all the time. Hubby hates, hates, hates it. One of my favorite songs is about the guy whose girlfriend works in a bar and he's hankering to rip the heads off the assholes coming on to her. Great song. Real catchy.

Okay, ideas. I think they come to me more often while I'm in bed, just before I fall asleep or the second I wake up. And the "what if" game is good fun.

What if this harried young woman professional, who promises to bring the next speaker to some high muckety-muck charity event, doesn't remember her commitment until she walks into the huge hall filled to the brim with guests? So what if she walks outside and grabs the first person she sees on the street, who happens to be a homeless bag lady pushing a shopping cart filled with... socks? What would happen if she dressed up this bag lady in her own fur coat and spent five minutes coaching her what to say? Then what if the pro gal intended just to introduce her as some doctor of philosophy, but announces the bag lady is ill and can't speak to the group? And what if the bag lady got out on stage anyway and started spouting all this mumbo jumbo and folks in the audience bought it? What if the audience gave her a standing ovation? What if this old bag lady turned out, in the end, to really be someone special?

Quirky and what-the-hell-is-this kind of story, but my mind works that way sometimes.

Alice Sharpe said...

Wait, wait! I got it!

The bag lady is elected president of the United States and gets us out of our current mess! She establishes national health care so people don't have to get sick and worry how they can afford to get well. And she rounds up all the jerks who taunted her while she was pushing the Rite Aid cart with the broken wheel and ships them off to Alaska, to that city where there are 300 days of straight night and where vampires now go to feed because they don't have to go out into the daylight for months on end and it's like an all you can eat jerk buffet (I stole the Alaskan town-vampire thing from a movie that starts today. brilliant, don't you think?) She is the best president we ever have and she is beloved by one and all.

And she takes that lousy fur coat and makes it into tiny little muffs for chilled small dogs to pay back the animal world for slaughtering critters for their fur. The fur industry goes under....

Like that?

Karen Duvall said...

Wow, Alice, you got it, all right. LOL! Hey, wanna collaborate? I see a seven figure book deal and movie rights, with an Academy Awards statue bearing our names. How's that for a "what if"? Snort.

Alice Sharpe said...

Karen, you are on. Maybe we can find a way to work in Danita's red-eyed dogs and Eli's designer fertility clinic....

Danita Cahill said...

...except for Hilary Clinton. She hates the bag-lady-turned-beloved president. Because she's jealous. Jealous in a whole new way than the dark ebbing envy she feels about the women her husband liasons with. ha!

Ideas, they are so much fun to play with, push and pinch and twist around. Don't you think?

Danita Cahill said...

And Alice, thanks for saying I am still thinking and writing like a writer. I do still feel like a writer. I always have been and imagine I always will be. I'm simply a writer who's not writing at the moment. At least not writing a novel.

Danita Cahill said...

Karen, I like that song too -- can't think of what it's called. I think the woman in the tune works in a bar too. My DH thinks she's a stripper. That does make sense, in a way, because if she's a bartender or a cocktail waitress, why would the guys be offering to buy her drinks? She wouldn't be able to drink on duty, right? On the other hand, strippers probably can. I imagine it helps uninhibit them. But then again, why would the guys come onto her more depending on what she's wearing if she's just going to take it all off anyway....

There I go, over-analyzing again. Drives the DH batty. But it is who I am. An analyzer. A reporter. A writer.

Alice Sharpe said...

Danita -- did I sense an aha moment?

Btw, I seriously need to hear this song.

Danita Cahill said...

Yes, Alice. I believe there was an aha moment in there somewhere.

Now, if I can just remember where I put it....ha!

Danita Cahill said...

Eli and Karen --
This is for you:

I want a new tour bus full of old guitars.
My own star on Hollywood Boulevard.
Somewhere between Cher and James Dean
is fine for me.

I'm gonna trade this life for fortune and fame.
I'd even cut my hair and change my name.

'Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars
And live in hilltop mansions driving fifteen cars....

My neice works at Walmart. She told me she can't believe how many people she hears walking around the store singing this song. I didn't even wanna be a rockstar the first time I heard it. But, dang, if the little persistant ditty doesn't get under your skin, crawl up to your brain and take up residence.

Ha, ha! I wanna be a rockstar.

Anonymous said...

Yeah baby! I always wanted to be a rock star too. I wanted to be Ann Wilson of Heart, actually, but when I was nineteen and the chance for me to sing with a band came up, I didn't take it. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!! I still kick myself for turning it down because the experience would have been amazing. Oh well, I'd probably not have the family and great life I have today if I'd have jumped on that opportunity. So now I just sing in church. ROFLMAO!! Whatever.

I, too, LOVE Nickelback. There's something about Chad Kroeger's gravelly voice that makes me all hot and covered in chilly-bumps at the same time. Dierks Bentley's voice has that same effect. His voice sends quivers of heat, among other things, through my body. Pant. Pant. LOL

Danita-- Loved your post; clever as always.

Like so many blogsters have already said, ideas just sort of pop into your head as a tid-bit that gets out of control.

I love to listen to conversations, (like we listened to that crazy woman's telephone call on the train ride to Emerald City's conference that time Dantia) or I just people watch and try and figure out why they are the way they are and I end up with all sorts of scenarios.

Asking the 'what if' sort of questions is what you have to do to get anywhere with an idea.

But I have to admit something...

Though I love to think about other people's lives and the what/whys about them, I tend to be blind and ignorant when it comes to my own life. Here's what I'm talking about...

My dad committed suicide over 21 years ago, when I was seventeen.

He supposedly left a "note". Well, I just found out Friday that the "note" was actually a long, incriminating letter with plenty of explanation as to why he left the world the way he did.

Funny, I never bothered to question much of anything about that whole horrid experience all those years ago; but recently my brother has been looking into it and he's been finding out all sorts of dark garbage about the whole fiasco that is my paternal family.

Now, did I not ask questions or even let them into my head all those years ago because I was too young, too scared, not ready to face it? I have no idea. But now I'm am wondering and I am ready for answers.

It's just strange to me how curious I am about some things and how I've avoided others. Maybe this is why I don't like to read or watch sad, scary stuff without happy endings. I need a happy ending because reality sucks so bad sometimes.

Who knows.

Karen Duvall said...

Wow, Piper, I totally understand how you might want to block such a tragedy from your thoughts, and your life. Suicide of a family member is a tough thing to live with. But it's brave of you to want to get answers. Maybe it's become important to you now because your brother brought it up. If he hadn't, you might still be sailing on the sea of bliss of ignorance.

I'm adopted and I always knew I was, but never questioned anything about my biological parents until a neighbor brought it up. She was adopted, too, and had started an investigation into who her parents were. This got me curious about my own situation. I never would have thought about it if not for her. So I did the whole search thing, found my birthmother, and that was that.

If you're looking for something, if you need closure from your dad's death, this could be good for you. But it may be painful, too. It's nothing like my birthmother search, which wasn't traumatic at all, I just used it as an example of how we can be influenced to something we might not consider on our own. It doesn't make it any less meaningful, though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Karen, for sharing about being adopted and finding your birth mother. And yeah, I am looking for that whole closure thing. I suspect though, that while looking for closure, I'll have to go through a whole lot more grief and suffering before I find it.

With the "new" information that's coming to light, I think I'm in for another long, painful haul. Good thing I have the husband I do or I'd go nuckin' futs over this whole disaster! :)

Thanks again!

Genene said...

Love your what-if scenarios! I do those also, though not as creative as what you ladies have come up with here!

My ideas come from snatches of song, from glimpses of people's actions -- what are those people putting the in trunk of that car -- an interesting look on someone's face, newspaper articles... all over, as probably most writers do.

I've also rewritten some of the lousy pieces of my past so the "bad guys" get their just desserts and everything is wrapped up neat and tidy in a happy ending.

So positive energy and prayers to you, Piper, as you deal with the past. I had the good fortune of working with an agency of social workers for 20 years and discovered many people had families who did NOT put the "FUN" in dysfunctional. The journey through the past can be horrendous but also healing. Writing can be part of that healing if you choose for it to be.

Danita Cahill said...

I do remember that train ride (It was your first, wasn't it Piper? You've come a long way, Baby!) and the crazy lady on the phone. I was busy scribbling the whole conversation down in a tiny notebook, in case I ever needed to write that sort of dialog. I've still got it somewhere and came across it awhile ago. Ah, memories.

Speaking of memories and misplaced notes, I'm sorry about all the stuff with your dad. I don't think it was wrong or unusual of you not to question it then. You were young and it probably made you sad and angry to dwell on it then, and maybe now too. Suicide has to be one of the most selfish acts a person can commit, in my opinion. A friend of mine's dad had brain cancer. It was painful. So, what did he do? He shot himself. In bed. While his girlfriend lie asleep beside him. How self-centered is that? They had no service. There was only a list of six people to call. The man was a rich, lonely jerk, loved by few. Did his money and all that walking all over folks to get it help him in the end? Nope.

My own biological father died last September. He was a raging alcoholic. His girlfriend of 20-something years, also serving a lifetime sentence to the bottle was staying at his house when he passed. She'd been there over a month because she never sobered up enough to drive herself back home. Apparently, neither did he. Dad went to bed one night and died in his sleep. His girlfriend didn't check on him or find him for three days. How pathetic and sad is that ending to a life?

As you can imagine, my brothers and I were not close with our biological father. It was our stepfather who raised us. We didn't hold a service for our "real" father either. There were only a handful of people to invite. He committed suicide too. He just drug it out for 30 years, accelerating his self-inflicted punishment in the last ten years.

I am not very curious about the whys anymore. I tried to understand it for years and finally went to Adult Children of Alcoholic meetings and gave up trying to figure out the way alcoholics' minds work. Of course my brothers and I tried intervention with Dad decades ago. They have to want to change. We can't change another. Hard lesson to learn.

Good luck delving into the past, Piper.

Danita Cahill said...


What someone's putting into their trunk, huh? As in lumpy and big and rolled up in a rug? Ha!

Ideas are everywhere. It's just fun and interesting to watch them grow and see where they lead us, isn't it?

Danita Cahill said...

Wow Karen, adopted, huh? I didn't know that about you. I think that would have many questions of its own. Glad you found your birth mother. Hope meeting her was a positive experience. You seem like a well-adjusted individual. Have you ever written about a character who is adopted?

Karen Duvall said...

Danita, funny you should ask. 8^) My first book, my *practice* book, was semi-autobiographical. It was about a young pregnant woman whose baby's life is in danger unless she finds her birthmother who's the key to a medical mystery. The plot was full of holes, but it was a great learning experience. I even got an agent for it! Can you believe it? I can't. Doris Michaels was my agent for 2 years, but when she couldn't sell it (no big surprise there), she broke up with me. Snort. She's a very successful agent now, but only handles nonfiction. Probably because of her experience with my book.

Though I found my biological mom, we never developed any kind of relationship. We had absolutely nothing in common. I have two older sisters and a younger brother, but she didn't want them to know about me. Whatever. My birthmother was a cocktail waitress in Vegas. I have no idea where she is now or even if she's still alive. Do I sound cold?

Danita Cahill said...

I can understand you feeling somewhat cold towards your birth mother, considering her attitude, Karen. And too bad you didn't get to lay eyes on your siblings.

My DD briefly dated a boy who was adopted. Although he's very close -- and respectful -- of his adoptive parents, he also has a relationship with his birth mother. He has his own horse he rides at her house and stuff. I thought that was cool, but unusual.

I have a cousin who's adopted and he seems to feel he never really belonged in our family. In the past 8 years or so, he has completely withdrawn from our family and "adopted" his wife's family. I think he's a good guy and love him way more than his brother, my biological cousin, who's a lump as far as I'm concerned.

The ironic thing is that as a young teenager, my adopted cousin impregnated a girl. He and the girl gave their baby up for adoption. I imagine he has a lot of unresolved issues over it all.

Danita Cahill said...

Wow! How did we get from a round peg in a square hole -- ideas -- to suicide and adoption? This blog really is a form of therapy, wouldn't you agree? Especially those of us "tortured characters" who come from less-than-Brady family backgrounds.

Karen Duvall said...

It's all grist for the story mill. 8^)

Being adopted occasionally has some effect on the characters I create. Each of them almost always feels different, separate, not of the same mold as their peers, and often the parental units are absent from their lives for one reason or another. I think its common for writers to extract from their own background of experiences, especially when it comes to family because we're so close to it.

You're right, though. The blog is good therapy.

Danita Cahill said...

So, swinging this back to writing: My first book was similar to yours, Karen, autobiographical, and full of holes. Oh, I changed the names and places, but it was still my life. I decided several people could sue me if that book went to print, so I dropped pursuing it. I don't even count it now as a book I've written. I just consider it 300 pages of the practice writing I've done since I was twelve or so.

Live and learn.

And then live and learn somemore.

Anonymous said...

Good comments, girls.

It's funny that you both wrote those first books about your own lives, somewhat; Paty did that too. In fact, I've heard a lot of writers have done that.

I should start writing a autobiographical book so I can purge all my demons. Maybe I'd move forward at a better pace in the rest of my life if I did. Heck, I could always burn it so no one could get a hold of it. LOL

Danita Cahill said...

Not a bad idea, Piper. I deleted my first book and never looked back. Writing (and deleting it) was definitely a healing process.

Alice Sharpe said...

Karen -- Just catching up on this blog -- what an afterlife it had! I came from divorced parents and always knew them both. They actually remarried when I was ten. And yet I still write about people who feel on the outside looking in and a little disconnected and I often if not always have absent parents and family members.

That's because, I think, most writers spend their lives feeling on the outside looking in. I wouldn't be surprised if most human beings don't feel that way to some extent and it may be a driving force into creating our own families where we will be the hub or at least part of the hub.

As for missing and dead parents? That's the stuff of internal conflict and pain and makes a person all the more interesting which explains you!

Forgive me, please, but your birthmother was a fool for not realizing who and what you were when you contacted her.

Alice Sharpe said...

Piper -- Ack, honey!

I'm so sorry about all that with your dad. I guess now that your brother has started investigating this, you are launched on the trail of discovery. I'm so glad you have the support of your family. I think a book about this, fictionalized perhaps so you can feel free to investigate emotions too scary to own up to, might be a great idea.

I'm sorry you had to go through that.

Alice Sharpe said...

Danita --

I guess I didn't realize or remember your father's story. No wonder you love and appreciate your stepfather.

Isn't the human spirit amazing?

Danita Cahill said...

I agree with Alice, Karen. You are an interesting person, no doubt due to your own journey through life.

And Piper, part of what makes you so compassionate, besides your faith, is the trials you have lived through.

Wow. Ghandi here. Ha ha!

Danita Cahill said...

Alice, the most surprising part about my father's death wasn't the way he died, or how long he lie in his bed until his girlfriend found him, but that he passed away just 17 days after my mom.

They had been divorced for 35 years, had no contact with each other, and no love lost between them. It plunged my brothers and me into orphanhood in less than a 3-week span. The sadest part is that Dad died without ever really knowing who his children were. Without ever knowing who he was.