I wake on a Sunday morning with a mind stuffed full of ideas. What to do? What to do first? I have all I need to finish my wonky star quilt. [no pictures until finito] I want a bushel of fresh peaches to make preserves since the peach crumble bars were so fantastic.
Except, I don’t have the peaches. I dream of climbing cherry trees, like I did last summer in Wisconsin and collecting my own sour cherries for preserves, since I ate my last jar of the coveted small batch. It made six, I kept only three. I opened my last jar of figs, this morning. Like a crackhead, I start fretting about where to get fresh figs.
And then my mind races off in my dream land, my land. My future house and yard. I want a holodeck to show everyone else what I see so vividly in my mind. Where the trees are planted, the colors of their blooms: the red buds and crepe myrtles and chickasaw plums. Take you for a walk through the gardens, the herbs, the trellised vegetables, the roses, the lilies, the flowering shrubs: hydrangeas and camillias and forsythia (that will bloom in zone 8). Like a Coleridgesque dreamscape, I imagine my xanadu. And like a petulant, MTV Sweet Sixteen tyrant….I want it NOW! How can a dream so vivid be such an unknown? I am like a possessed mathematician, a theorem stuck inside my mind and I know….I know with absolute certainty…that what I have inside my head is right. I can write and drawn and describe this proof and people nod their heads politely, unconvinced….but I know this! I know I am right.
But like I said, my Sunday morning mind is stuffed like a vase full of flowers, stem after stem of ideas. Some starting to open while others are still tightly closed, their beauty yet to be revealed.
After a brief, blazing text dialogue with my Watchmaker [=Q=], I am ignited. My creative imagery set afire. How is it that another person’s mind is so attuned, so synchronized that it is like stone on flint, a spark that roars into a fire, sending embers floating on the air, tendrils of flames lick at the sky. How can a single line of swapped dialogue, a half line of poetry, be the seed for a story. And the instant you hear it, you know this is the heirloom seed for which you have searched and you want to rush to plant it, shelter it, nurture it and let it grow into something wild and new.
Yesterday, I sat and read J.M. Tohline’s debut novel, The Great Lenore. I might have set the novel down in the first 20 pages because…well, I didn’t like the characters that much. But, I read the reviews on this writer and I kept reading. Twenty more pages and I understood. Some characters are not very likable. Just as in life, some people are not very likable. But the novel was very good…better than good. And I wish I had friends who had also read this book, so we could discuss it. While I can’t crawl into Tohline’s head and figure out his motivation, I like speculating on Richard Parkland, the protagonist [or anti-protagonist] and his motivation [or passive anti-motivation]. And that is the litmus test of a good book and a good writer….do you “get” the characters and do you want to know what makes them tick? Whether is it Hannibal or Scarpetta or Lisbeth, a well-developed character is one that hooks us.
And in life among our real friends and acquaintances….its the well-developed, well-defined characters to whom we are drawn and to whom we wish to know better. Stumbling upon a brilliant mind – whether brilliant as in intelligent or brilliance as in diamonds – we desire more, seek more, hunger for more. And after my conversation this morning, I see a new character leaning against the wall over there and I want to go meet them….and find out their story.