Thursday, 7 May 2015

Ideas like buses

I had an idea earlier on today.  I was in the middle of writing something - I was concentrating, and then this idea sneaked up and wanted my attention. I pushed it away, fobbing it off with ' a minute...' and it was so offended that it disappeared and hasn't been back.

I knew I should have written it down. I should have made a mental (or physical) note of what I was doing, suspended that thought process for a moment or two and scribbled down the idea before resuming task one.

Silly me.

Now I'm left with a nagging sense that it was a Great Idea. One of the best. And now it's gone.

Two ideas came at the same time, you see, and I was flummoxed. Like waiting for ages and ages at a bus stop (in the rain) and then two buses come at once. As I clamber on the first, fumbling for my bus pass, the second sails on by. I will never know what it might have been like to ride on that bus; who I might have met, what I might have seen - because I got on the first one.

That's what happened to me this morning.

Can't think why I didn't make a note. I am such a note-writer that my desk, every handbag I own, the kitchen counter and bedside drawer all house multiple notebooks. I have scraps of paper all over the place. I keep a notepad by my bed and several nights a week I attempt to capture something that comes to me in the hours of darkness; a dream, an idea, a snatch of dialogue, or some vague and random thought that I don't want to let go of.

This Notebook By The Bed technique has been met with variable degrees of success. I have tried not putting the light on, to avoid waking the husband, or indeed to avoid waking myself up too much, but this is not to be advised. You can very easily find that you've written a paragraph, but with each line overlaying the first and rendering them unintelligible. Or the first three words are on the notepad, the rest on the bedside table. Or, as a friend of mine shared, it turned out that the pen had no ink and you're left trying to decipher the indentations.

Very often my nocturnal scrawling are illegible come the clear light of day; whatever it was that was burning in my brain did not translate well to my hand. Of the messages I could read, however, I have captured some remarkable insights in my night time notebook. Consider the possibilities of the following:
'The lard in the bushes is too eggy. But THIS WILL BE ALRIGHT. It will be ALRIGHT.'
'Try putting ALL of them in.' 
Alternatively, this could be a fascinating story prompt:
'He asks her, and she just stares at him. It was too late.'
No idea who he is, or who she is, or what he asked her, but the drama of those two sentences. Breaks your heart, doesn't it?

For sheer frustration value, I can't beat the following:
What?! What?! I really need to know..... Or then there's the terror of waking to find this written large on the notepad next to you:
"Don't do it."
On a lighter note, my husband once told me that I stirred as he came to bed after watching a late film. Without waking completely, I grasped his hand and said with some urgency:
'The blue ones. You've got to watch the blue ones.'
He wrote that one down, after he'd finished laughing.

Then there are the myriad of notes that I can't read. Excerpts include (and this is just what they look like - could be accurate, knowing my propensity to scrawl things that make no sense):
'Lemons. All of them used to be fussy lemons but now they're aggressive, unpleasant.' 
'Get your act together.'
Yes indeed.

My absolute favourite, however, is the time I awoke and reached for the notepad, and wrote the following:
'No worries.'
I even underlined it, and added a smiley face. It was clearly discernible as a smiley face, even though the eyes were slightly offset in a cubist kind of way.
'No worries. :-)' 
I like to think that one was from God.


  1. I ruled out the notebook by the bed years ago. This post made me laugh, Helen. I'm sure your idea will come back, when you least expect it.

    1. Thanks, Sue. Ruled out because it's incompatible with sleep, or no earthly value? You might have a point... :-)

    2. Practicalities. No light switch. No bedside table. Might disturb hubby. If I wake up properly in the night I take hours to get back to sleep. Sometimes I wake up with a new idea in the morning.

  2. Dorothy Courtis7 May 2015 at 20:02

    Love it! ☺️

    1. From a fellow nocturnal scribbler? Thanks Dorothy. x

  3. Oh Helen, I've just come across this post - love it, absolutely love it. Glad I'm not the only one who doesn't make sense in the middle of the night! Keep writing m'dear x

    1. Thanks, Mandy. Those middle of the night ideas are so brilliant, so terribly important, and then....