Isn’t strange how stories are born? They may come from an image, a memory of an heirloom, an overheard conversation at the supermarket, anything is a possible starting point. If we follow these things, we often hop from image to image, sound to sound until we have something like a dot-to-dot puzzle waiting to be filled in. But isn’t that like our life? six degrees of separation and all that.
Sometimes it feels like boarding a train only the train has many paths it could take at any one instance. We, the passenger, sit back and watch it move along tracks that are seemingly built from nothing, passing station to station. This is essentially how clustering or mind-mapping works.
This is why I love to dream the initial magic spark of a story. I may not get something concrete, but I get something—like an impression left by somebody else in the sand—to wonder about. Sometimes you have a feeling about it. And that may be enough.
I looked outside my window earlier at the grey, wet road and thought of the word ‘highway’; I heard Bob Dylan singing ‘Highway 61 Revisited’; I thought of Abraham and Isaac; about Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, about faith; I thought of the church and masses; I thought of Elias Canetti’s Crowds and Power and the pressure of conformity; I saw an individual, he was looking up at the stars; I heard Bowie’s ‘Looking for Satellites’; I heard Lou Reed’s ‘Satellite of Love’; I heard Lou Reed’s ‘The Raven’; I thought of Poe and the The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
Next time you find yourself lost in thought don’t dismiss it as ‘ideal dreaming’. Instead make a note of it. Sometimes an idea, or a series of interconnected ideas like this is enough to spark the imagination. Somewhere within these dots of images, sounds, books, and theories is a story. Now it’s just a matter of connecting them together and writing it!