Someone asked me how in the world I get ideas for what I write. “Maracaibo Oil Brat” was easy. I lived in Maracaibo during my teen years. “The Enchanted Snakes of Quiriquire” was a different story.
I’ve always had a vivid imagination. Part of that was because I was puny kid. I was either getting sick, was sick, or was getting over being sick and therefore condemned to stay indoors. So, I learned to amuse myself by giving each of my dolls a make believe life.
This same imagination has winnowed its way into my sleep and has provided me with a lifetime of vivid dreams. Not plain dreams. Oh, no. Mine are in color, Three D, High Definition, and surround sound. Further I host as many cast members as any Cecil B. DeMille epic, and have such involved, convoluted plots as to stupify Alfred Hitchcock. My dream extravaganzas are not once in a while but every night. I entertain Bruce with “what I dreamed last night” over toothpaste. I kept a dream journal for several of years but I spent too much time writing what I dreamed instead of writing what I wanted.
Yes, I confess. “The Enchanted Snakes of Quiriquire” was a dream – at least in part. I took the core of the dream and stretched into a plot, along with some rearranged Venezuelan geography thrown in. Doug Becker, a long time friend, was shocked to learn that I wrote about Quiriquire, a real place in Venezuela. “But,you’ve never even been to Quiriquire,” Doug sputtered in protest. “That’s why, Dougie-Doodle, it’s called ‘creative writing.'” (Note: Doug is an engineer, poor darling. If it cannot be measured or quantified, for him, it doesn’t exist.)
“Houston Women” grew from a telephone conversation between my sister Pat and me before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. “Burial at Sea” and “Escape From Vietnam” were both stories told to me a friend and co-worker. Naturally, I embellished them. Yet to be written, but certainly in the “I know what I’m going to write” phase, are “The Moraga Heist” and “Confessions of a Middle Class Belly Dancer,” both painfully autobiographical.
I have no lack of things to write. What I need is more time and discipline to get my stories on to a thumb drive. Sounds like a good New Years Resolution for 2010. If you need a good idea for a story, let me know. I’ll lend you a dream.
Susan McClurg Berman