I carry a small spiral notebook with me at all times and have been doing this for many years. There's a shoe box in my closet filled with these notebooks, each riddled with notes and impressions, ideas, schemes, and soup recipes. I am aware that this is unremarkable.
After finishing The Sisters Brothers, I upended the shoe box in search of a new project. Surely, somewhere in one of these 20-plus notebooks there was something that would put me to work? But no, I went through them all and didn't find a single usable idea.
Below is a sampling of what I did find, things that I won't be using, either because they're bad ideas, or else underdeveloped, or because I don't understand how to use them. At least, not yet.
Short story ideas:
- A story about a charitable organization called Ski Bums that takes homeless people skiing. This is destined to fail because homeless people hate being cold.
- A story about someone who is the opposite of an exorcist — someone who can make an unhaunted house haunted.
- A story about a Doo-Wop group who reunite after 40 years of hostile non-communication to sing their lone hit, "Baby Factory."
- "Stevie Ray Vaughn Hotel Proposal": A proposal for a Stevie Ray Vaughn-themed hotel.
Snippets of conversation:
Statements/bits of monologue:
- "The smell of burning hair tells me my true love is home."
- "November's the worst month of the year. I used to think it was February but I was wrong. It's November."
- "Your little buddy with the size five cowboy boots."
- "Shut up. Go wash the house."
- "He was one of those touchy-feel types, I could tell right off. Kept talking about his special oatmeal."
- "Paint me in sentimental oils, you pig."
- "The thing I don't like about old people is how old-fashioned they are."
- "Do me a favor, and don't do me any favors."
- "So, beggars can be choosers."
- Character pleased with his just-finished dessert, patting stomach: "Remember the à la mode!"
- In 1588, 28,000 Spanish soldiers and sailors confessed and took communion at the same time and in the same location before going to war with the English
- The bark of a sassafras tree can cure syphilis.
- In the spring, when it rains and the snow is swept from the ground, the earth resembles the fur of a just-born animal.
- A clean bathroom = invitation to ponder suicide.
- Eating lunch and looking at the gun-colored water. My hands smell like bananas and gasoline.
- Foghat = good name for a cat or dog.
General ideas/random plans:
- A bet whereby the loser has to get a tribal tattoo.
- A bet whereby the loser has to put one of those "COEXIST" stickers on his car for one year.
- Dracula Party: A party where everyone dresses like Dracula.