“Enchanted Snakes of Quiriquire” – How’d I Get the Ideas

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


5 Responses to “Enchanted Snakes of Quiriquire” – How’d I Get the Ideas

  1. chs says:

    What a fun post, Susan! Please do write that belly dance one. I so want to read that!

  2. Susan McClurg Berman says:

    Thanks, Cheryl. Taking a clue from Barbara Bentley’s book, I was the first person in Pinole to have someone arrested and convicted of harassing phone calls, which escalated to death threats. Quite a nerve racking time in my life – most especially since this creep threatened to kill not me, but my two children. I think I’ll wait until our liquor cabinet contains a new bottle of Wild Turkey and there’s a rainy cold storm raging outside before I tackle that one.

    • chs says:

      Oh, how awful! Judging from the title alone, I anticipated a more light-hearted tale. Yes, a true-life story that involved harassment and threats would require some fortification to write. Yikes!

  3. I love the humor you always manage to intertwine in your postings. Looking forward to reading your submission this week. I, too, have vivid dreams, some of them stick with me for days or weeks. While I don’t get full novel ideas from these midnight movies, I often awake to find I’ve found a solution to a difficult work problem or a twist to a story plot I’ve been writing.

    Having chocolate before bed makes my dreams even more bizarre and memorable. If I ever get writer’s block, I’ll only have to make a trip to See’s Candy.

  4. David George says:

    Nice line at the end. Can I steal it? 😉 DG

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