Monday, May 19, 2014

Interview Intrigue

Sometimes when an author is interviewed you may learn a tidbit that knocks your socks off.  If you get down into the interview and really tear it apart, you'll learn something about how to write, too.

I was interviewed and answered the questions, sometimes with tongue-in-cheek replies but truthful to the end.

During the interview I was asked the following question: When do ideas come to you and how do you capture them?

So here is my answer: Most of the time ideas come to me at the worst moment. But I've learned to handle that and always have a notepad or blank sheet of paper and always have a pen to write down any ideas or thoughts that come up. Before Smart Phones, I always carried a small cassette recorder in my car so I could dictate ideas or story lines. Worst moment? Let's just say I used toilet paper to jot down the idea.

Okay, maybe, just maybe, that might have been what is termed "TMI" ... Too Much Information! But, surprisingly, I received three (3) private emails about that interview. Seems I'm not the only person to have needed to write an idea while in the bathroom. I can understand the need not to respond publicly with a comment and to protect the innocent, those emails have been deleted so I don't know who they are or how to contact them again. That might have been a mistake, but... To be sure, I did reply back to each person, thanking them for sharing that moment with me.

But, the surprising part was the tidbit I gleaned from each of the emails. It seems that other writers are like me and when the idea strikes, they are ready with pen and paper, no matter the circumstances. The one gentleman explained that he had to write down the idea because if he waited until he was able to get back to his desk, the thought would have disappeared. So, with toilet paper in hand, he saved the day. The lady explained that "the word" she had been striving to use came to her while in a department store restroom. She never told me what "the word" was but I did realize it was critical to her story. I will attempt to use a certain word only to have it flitting just outside my range of vision and then, at the worst possible moment, come zooming in at me like a Kamikaze pilot. And yes, it is a self-destructive course because if I don't write it down, it will most definitely disappear.

The cassette recorder originally was used when I rode a train into work each morning. I would get to the station at 5:40 A.M. and get on the train, find a seat, and if lucky, fall back to sleep since it was a one hour ride. Sometimes I would dream about what I was working on - yes, the current story. I would awake -- okay, somebody would wake me -- when we arrived at the station. My office was across the street from the train station. It was a quick walk and by the time I was in my office, my dream was fragmented and the best I could hope for was bits and pieces. Enter the cassette recorder. When I awoke, I'd grab the recorder out of my briefcase and then as I charged with the rest of the herd toward the station, I dictated my dream into the recorder while it was still fresh in my mind. Then, when I got to the office, I could play it back, make my coffee, let the story mull in my mind, and finally get it typed in and saved onto disk before work started so I could take it home that night.

I tremble to think of how many great scenes were lost due to my lack of not getting my dreams and ideas down on paper before they dissipated from my memory.  

So, yes, even toilet paper can save the day in more ways one!

Addendum: The toilet incident was strictly a thought, an idea I had to get down before I forgot it. Trust me, I don't sit on the throne and write. Besides, toilet paper isn't the best writing material - talk about interpreting scribbled lines after the fact!

Until next I ramble on...


  1. LOL on the TP jot down. That's great. I thought I was bad at having a pen in every possible location of my house and life. Need to add one to my bathroom too. Just in case!

  2. Actually, I was at work that particular moment. Hey, I figure, that was my "personal" time - I can think about what I want. LOL.

  3. My husband does wood work. Hmm a bathroom jotting station. Something wooden and tasteful that sits above the TP roll.

  4. LOL. Ten thousand years from now, they are doing an archaeological dig and discover a writing desk in a bathroom, only to assume that we were such busy people, we even had to study and write during the moments of nature's call. If you have it made, please send me a picture.

  5. I usually wake up with ideas and keep a journal next to my bed, but haven't needed one in the bathroom yet. LOL

  6. I have to say, I'm not sure HOW I'd use the toilet paper since I have no pens in the bathroom - does this mean I should put a bunch of pens in there to keep... for when the moment strikes? My luck, I'll end up blowing my nose on my notes. :P

  7. Tara - you can just bring the journal with you into the bathroom.

  8. Elyse - I had my pen in hand as I rushed from my office to the restroom at work. Now I keep a pen in my pocket for such emergencies. LOL.

  9. HAHA - Well I am glad I'm not the only one to use whatever means necessary to handle the important aspects of life! I use the "notes" function on my iPhone, or I simply text myself what I am thinking so I can pull it up easily now... but I used to have a pen and paper by my bed to jot things down like that. :) Great post Bob!

  10. LJ Davis - this was pre-cell phones. In fact, my boss had just got one for his car - the big clunky type - circa late 1980s. Just think what the person in the next stall will think when you whisper into your iPhone: "Kill Joe and cut body up. Use bleach to purge the room of evidence. Take the money, catch 4:45 flight." Now that I think about it - TP might be the better choice after all. LOL.