For the past two weeks I’ve been dealing with pneumonia and its many twists and turns. Antibiotics make me sleepy, among other things, and this time being sleepy didn’t help matters since coughing and shortness of breath were my main symptoms.
I don’t tell you this for sympathy but, rather, to set the stage for what comes next. If you’ve ever had a respiratory infection or pneumonia to any degree, you know that sleeping on the horizontal isn’t going to happen. The lungs won’t allow for it. Throw in a slight sinus infection, and you’ll really not sleep much.So, there I was, not sleeping in an upright and locked position, cradled on the corner of my bed, back against three pillows, one of which actually did hold my head up and allow me to turn it from side to side.
While I sat there for hours in the darkness, not sleeping but wallowing in that twilight state of antibiotic-drugged drowsiness, my mind was free to run wild, without destination, purpose, or forethought. The hors d'oeuvres of primitive thought kept floating in front of the mind’s eye, offering up delicacies of unlimited scope in the creative sense.Entire novels rolled by, pulled onward down an ever-lengthening road by a team of amusing characters that were fit to assemble into something miraculous if I could just hold onto them to write down enough during the day to remember them. Unfortunately, such was not the case. They drove away on their wagonload of plotline and interesting twists before I could fully grasp enough details to hang onto the storyline.
Dragged behind that wagon came another book; I called it “The Book of Notions.” This one stuck with me and expanded with each new consideration. A vision flashed across my inner movie screen; a man dressed in period costume—late nineteenth century—carrying under one arm a large book, bound in black, thin and mysterious. The title, embossed in gold, was “The Book of Notions.” I never saw the man’s face. It didn’t matter. The title stuck in my mind.Now I had something to hold onto. Substance couldn’t be too far away. Suddenly that great little story that I’d just written for a competition took on a whole new meaning. It was the first of the “Notions” and would anchor all of the rest. There would be between 15 and 20 Notion stories and they would use the same narrator and all would be slightly quirky, sad or amazing, funny or chilling. I could see the entire project; a project I could do over time and look for just the right subjects to fill the book.
The whole project resided within that black binding with gold lettering. I knew where I’d look for the stories. I knew the approach I would take. I knew it would work.It isn’t often when I come across something like this that has such a feel of rightness to it. I always hang onto those with both hands, and they’re always worthwhile. And it isn’t as if I don’t have enough projects already on my plate. I have five that I’m working on now. This one, though, is one that haunts, but in a good way; a way that forces me to keep it in mind, forces me to keep thinking about what the stories will be. I won’t neglect this one for long between story installments.
Perhaps this is a true example of inspiration. Perhaps it’s only an example of hallucinations and fevered dreams. Either way, I have a long-term project that will hold my interest in easy installments and that’s something worthwhile.Here’s hoping that all of you are so fortunate to find a silver lining for yourself. Until later,