By Norma Huss
This past winter I looked out my window and saw a popcorn tree. Wow! I had to take a picture.
Well, you know it wasn’t ACTUALLY a popcorn tree. It was a tree with branches completely devoid of leaves, but snow had gathered in so many heavy clumps it reminded me of little popcorn balls. Today, now that I think of it, there has to be a story there somewhere! So, how can I use a popcorn tree?
I’ll go to my inspiration collection, writerly quotes I’ve collected over the years. My very favorite is one I’ve printed up and taped right over my computer. I glance at it every day, and try to do my best to live by this:
“That was the moment I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of the professional which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writing, and aren’t writing particularly well.” Agatha Christie
But today, I need more advice, something that gathers my notes and gives me direction. Perhaps this one:
“Keep a notebook, honey, and someday it will keep you.” Mae WestSorry, not that one. (I could only wish!) Aha! How about the next quote?
“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” VoltaireOops, that does SO not go with Mae’s quote. But I have more quotes.
“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” F. Scott FitzgeraldVERY useful when one is busy submitting that lovely manuscript to a multitude of agents, but does it help me today? I must dig deeper.
“Always remember, perseverance is as important as talent.” Dean Koontz
“The professional writer is the amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard BackYes, I am inspired. I can do it. Let me think a bit. How about a children’s story. Maybe a picture book manuscript. Except I’m a mystery writer. But are there picture book mysteries? Could be the first of a collection of “what-is-it?” pictures, you know, the close-up that doesn’t provide enough external clues to.... How about an adult mystery. It could make a good title: Dead Under The Popcorn Tree, or Murder By Popcorn. No, no, that’s really bad! How about.... Is that another quote I hear banging on my door?
“Don’t think! Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things; you simply must do them.” Ray BradburyThere you go! And guess what? That’s the quote I’ll use. Just plunk a popcorn tree down on the website, and ramble (with quote collection in hand).
Have you ever seen a popcorn tree? How about some other strange and wonderful sight that inspired you? Did you find advice that really helped? I must admit, the first one I quoted here has helped me through many a session of writing that was not going particularly well. Do you have a favorite quote?
A postscript from Norma:
Wings ePress, Inc. published my first novel, a mystery titled Yesterday’s Body, last October—the same month my mother turned 100. Naturally, I dedicated it to her. Although she has never actually given me writing advice, she’s my inspiration. She’s written poetry all her life, mainly as gifts for others to celebrate birthdays and special events. Last year she wrote one (that didn’t quite have the rhyme and rhythm of her earlier ones) for one of the caregivers at her assisted living home. It was all about the dogs the woman brought for a visit, and they published it in their newsletter.