Monday, October 02, 2006

AG: Whence Cometh Inspiration?

The other day, my wife and I were returning home after running a few errands. We pulled to a stoplight and waited for it to turn green. The wind was blowing. Where I live, the wind always blows. This day, the wind brought more than dust devils and a stream of uprooted desert plants--it slapped a piece of paper to the passenger-side window, right next to my wife's head.

The white sheet of notebook paper hung for a moment against the glass.

The motion caught my eye and I turned to see not just the paper, but handwriting in blue ink and a signature. Before I could read the message, the wind stripped it from the car and sent it tumbling down State Highway 395.

Before I could turn my head again, an idea for a story crashed into my mind and rattled around.
My wife watched the paper tumble in front of a fast moving Mack truck. "That was weird."

"What if you had seen your name on that paper?" My brain jiggled with new ideas.

"Uh-oh. Here we go again."

"What if you saw your name and the name of someone you know? Would you go after it? Would you chase the paper?"

She looked at big rigs, SUVs with cell phone toting soccer moms, pickup trucks with poorly restrained cargo and frowned. I had my answer.

"What if I saw my name and the word murder on the page? What if that one piece of paper were linked to the abduction of some child? What if we saw just enough information to make us think it had been penned by some terrorist? Would we risk stepping onto the highway to retrieve a note that may or may not save a life? What if you recognized the handwriting as yours but you don't remember writing it? Wait, even better. What if you recognize the handwriting as that of your long lost brother whom you assumed dead?"

She stared at me, unable to blink. "What if the light turned green and the first car in the line refused to move?"



"Oh, yeah." I started across the intersection. "So what do you want for lunch?" My mind, however, still wondered about that wayward note. The wind brought a gift that day--a chance to once again exercise my imagination and it all happened in a few seconds.

Al Gansky finds inspiration in all sorts of things. Visit his website at


At 7:54 AM, Blogger Deborah said...

What a perfect illustration of how a writer's mind works. Loved this! I sure hope you write the book!

At 9:51 AM, Blogger Carol Umberger said...

LOL! God bless our long suffering spouses for their support!

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous kristydykes said...

What if?, the magic words for a writer.

Thanks for a great post.

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Vasthi said...

The question then becomes. . . how do we stop ourselves from running into that rabbit hole? We can't.

At 10:54 AM, Blogger Heather said...

My next novel: a dream I had. Murder mystery beginning to end. I've never thought myself a murder mystery person, but I can't let this dream go.
Only in the writer's world are the what if questions not considered odd. Usually I get looks. You know, those looks.
Love how God sends us things.

At 6:11 PM, Blogger Gina Holmes said...

Intriguing premise. Your wife sounds as funny as you. Our poor spouses is right!

At 6:47 PM, Blogger Ane Mulligan said...

What I want to know is when does the book come out?


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