How Writers Think

I drive my son and another student to school in the morning, a commute which brings us through rush hour traffic complicated by a lot of road construction with varied speed limits. This morning, as I was accelerating out of a 55 MPH zone up to the now 65 MPH speed limit, a silver sedan cut sharply over from the right.

Now the driving behavior was obvious. She hadn’t expected me to accelerate, and there was a truck right in front of her going even slower, so she wanted to move into the faster lane ahead of me (still slow moving in her mind) rather than behind. No problem, though she cut it a little close.

However, because of that cutting close, we got an up close and personal view of her trunk.

My son says, “That’s odd. She’s scraped the Jesus out of her fish.”

This one comment wipes her driving behavior out of my mind as I focus on the traditional loaves-and-fishes symbol on the back of her car. Sure enough, no words fill the shape.

Most normal people (or so I assume cause not being one I can’t tell for sure) would have found that curious and moved on.

Not me.

“What if someone else scraped it off, instead?” I ask, not expecting an answer.

But that’s not good enough.

“What if it was originally one of the Darwin fish and someone scraped off Darwin and the little feet?”

Still not enough.

“What if she’s never really given the symbol a glance since sticking it on her car, assuming as it was so it will always be?”

Pause

“She’s been unwittingly converted, and she doesn’t even know it yet.”

Our exit ramp came up, and we got off the highway while she continued on, oblivious to how I had posited her life had turned upside down.

Only later did I remember that the first fish symbols didn’t have any lettering at all. Why they felt the need to add Jesus, I don’t know…or whether it came before or after the first Darwin fish. The facts didn’t matter, however, only the exploration.

That’s how a writers mind works. Everything, no matter how inconsequential, has a story of major proportions hiding within it for anyone willing to look.

And no, there is no place for this woman and her fish in my stories, but an unwitting conversion may creep in somewhere.

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8 Responses to How Writers Think

  1. jjmcgaffey says:

    After the Darwin fish, when they needed to make it clearer. Now they’ve got fish with a little cross where the eye would be…which is just a trifle ambiguous (is that a cross or an x?).

    Interesting visit to your mind!

  2. Michele says:

    Had to chuckle at these comments. This happens so often in my daily routine. A little thing, inconsequential to everyone else around me, can set off a spark of thinking like that. I used to make comments to those around me, which generally gets them wondering “where do you come up with such weird/strange/crazy ideas?” These days, I try to remember to write the ideas down–if I remember my writing journal. I have so many scraps of paper laying around with such musings. I’m hoping that this sort of thinking is keeping our minds young and agile! Keep it up–you’re doing great!

    • MarFisk says:

      I don’t write the ideas down anymore, but this one was a fun progression. I figure if the idea has more than a leg to stand on, it’ll come back on its own.

      • Michele says:

        I can relate to that. There are too many ideas and not enough time anymore. Too much else to deal with to keep track of slips of paper and journals. lol

  3. Kit says:

    LOL, I know that progression! And it’s a great game to pass the time.

    • MarFisk says:

      Hmm, I hadn’t thought of it that way. We always played alphabet games and i spy. Maybe next road trip will see a variation on what if.

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