Evolution of a Story Idea

Another assignment in my writing class.  What to write about?  As I look out my front window, I see English ivy covering the hill in my front yard.   Yes, I can do something with that. 

First question – what does the structure of ivy remind me of?   Things all packed together like commuters packed onto a train or bus.  What’s interesting about that?   I commuted for years.  The memories are painful.  I’ll skip that.   

Think of a different idea.  Three of something.  I could do that.  Yes.  Three of what?  I don’t know.  I can’t use three; my instructor used three in her example.  

C’mon, Lynn, you can do this.

My instructor suggested using six of something.  I could write about what I see and hear at six different times in a day when I sit in my chair in the living room.  OK, what happens at 6 AM, 10 AM, 2 PM, 6 PM, 10 PM and 2AM?   Boring!  Scratch that.

Back to ivy which seems to be spreading through my brain and taking root.  Let’s try this again.  Look at the ivy vines running here and there, packed tight one on top of another.  I could write a story about someone talking too fast.  Why would they be talking fast?  They’re lying or nervous.   About what?   On second thought, never mind.  Too complicated.  

Forget the ivy.  New idea.  Waves undulating.  I always liked the word undulating.  Now my brain is caught in the bobbing of the water, but going nowhere.   

Forget the waves.  Another idea. Serpentine walls winding like a snake.  I don’t like snakes, but I like serpentine walls.   Now I’ve hit a brick wall with that thought.   

Forget the walls.  

Back to ivy.  

For heaven’s sake, forget about ivy for a minute!  Snowflakes, tree bark, squirrels, water, bamboo, three leaf clovers, birds.   Well, why don’t I just throw in lions, tigers and bears?  Oh, my!

Focus, Lynn!

My mind is a jumbled, tumbled, snarled mess like, well … an overgrown bed of ivy. Maybe I should make a cup of tea, spread some paint on canvas.  Free myself of the ivy, but that invasive plant has moved in.   Why does my mind grab onto something and won’t let go even though it won’t work? 

Maybe it’s true what they say, that sometimes your subject chooses you.  Ivy has chosen me, climbing over the rough surface of.

This has become the ground cover of my mind, covering all its surfaces.   As hard as I try to break free of the tangle, the ivy’s tentacles have latched onto me.  

So I will dive into the ivy.  I will become the ivy.   I will dream of green leaves tonight that will inspire my writing tomorrow.   I will surrender to long runners spreading over every mental surface, overtaking all my thoughts. 

I will imagine lush ivy vines covered with ideas shooting here and there, going unexpected places in my thoughts.   I will wade into the middle of the greenery and dig down, get my hands dirty. I will gather snips of conversation, a flash of a scene, an impression, a feeling, a sound buried in that ivy.   I will grab those shoots of ideas and set them free of the tangle and allow them to creep, crawl, climb as they take me on a writing journey.   I will!

© Lynn Wyvill 2011




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