THE FINE PRINT is where you’ll find great creative inspiration. I mean, have you looked in the want ads lately? If not, you should.
It’s there that I find out what people are selling these days, sometimes with heart-rending detail. Ads for unworn wedding dresses and well-worn wedding bands, for instance, can’t help but inspire you to write stories about those things in your life that hold the same breathtaking meaning.
We’ve all heard the tired old story of Ernest Hemingway reportedly settling a bet in a bar, offering to write a short story in under ten words. The result: “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn,” the real lesson from which is that this kind of creative inspiration exists not only in Parisian cafes, but right under your nose. It’s a DIY world when you write memoir. All you’ve got to do is open your eyes to the world of inspiration.
You’ve got to read.
For instance, this, from my local newspaper, the Times Union, just last week.
BullChit Puppies Rock! Pitt Bull/Chow Chow Mix Excellent Loving
And the ad goes on from there, including the line that mom is actually a Chow Chow/Samoyed mix, a detail that made me laugh even louder, causing the man I sleep next to to ask me to keep it down on my side of the bed.
But how many directions can you take that kind of find?
Well, I’d start with what is wrong with us these days, I think, though that’s way too broad a topic, and I’d try like hell to narrow it to what our tolerances have become, or what humor is, or outrage, and I’d keep narrowing it, all the while using that little ad as the news peg, the sand in the oyster, the reason I’m both telling the tale and the reason it was provoked in me.
What other directions might that piece go? Any which way I want, including tales of my own mutts, or how what once was a mutt can now can command a $200 price tag, as asked in this ad. For that piece I might have to employ the great line about suckers being born every day. I might even call up the seller and ask some questions, knowing that doing a little research is the very best way to a good piece.
Inspiration. You can literally grab it anywhere. Just open your newspaper and read.