Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Story Snaps

While on the road I took a few pictures whenever I saw something interesting. I was behind the wheel for most of the really spectacular scenery, so I didn't get any of that, but I did look around whenever we stopped.

It was too cold for flowers to be blooming, so I was surprised to see these brave beauties opening in front of one hotel. I liked the contrast of the petals against the brick building, and how jarring it was to see such a determined sign of spring in the midst of a lot of stick trees and frozen ground. Reminded me a bit of my cranky rose bush back home, which flowers whenever it pleases, weather be damned. And who planted this, I wondered, and why was only this bush blooming? I wrote all about it in my journal that night, and I think I might play with it a bit more and see what comes out of it.

My mom spotted this rusty old workhorse outside the restaurant where we stopped for lunch. She claimed she used to have one exactly like it, and launched into kind of a gruesome story about how women back then used to get their fingers caught in the rollers. It made me take a solemn vow to never again complain about doing laundry in my nice new fully automatic washer.

Then I got an idea about a girl doing laundry during the Depression, and how her clothes went into that old washer ragged and threadbare but came out through the wringer as something very different. A play on the old Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, but with a definite Americana twist. I got out my notebook and jotted down a quick outline of the idea before we left.

This is a shot of the window of a guest room I stayed in at a family member's house. It was late afternoon when I took it, and the room was fully illuminated, but the light is different in the mountains. After I had the shot the display on my camera showed this rather spooky view.

If a house is filled with shadows, all the windows might look like this; like portals to another dimension. I love windows because they're the eyes of the house, and they never stop watching the world even when someone draws the blinds. And suddenly for me blinds took on a whole new meaning, and more notes had to be scribbled down.

Not everyone can take a four-day road trip to find interesting stuff to photograph, but you don't have to. Story ideas and writing prompts are all around us every day. This afternoon I saw a license plate on a car at the market that gave me a new character name, as did the name of the little town in Washington state that showed up on a package that came in the mail. It's not so much where you are as it is what you're paying attention to in your corner of the world. You don't even need a camera; just be open to the possibilities, and story ideas will start popping up all around you.


  1. Those look like magnolias. Sigh. The color is really gorgeous.

    And I remember my mom having an old wringer washer! Yes, you really did have to watch your fingers--and your own loose clothing--with those suckers. But I also remember being fascinated by the giant soap bubbles they'd sometimes squeeze up in the wet material and waiting for them to pop. :)
    (And might I add that they seemed to get clothes much cleaner than the automatic ones?).

  2. In total agreement! :D I can see you making some good stories out of these things.

    I did something similar once... sort of. Dad was taking me on a camp and we stopped by a big petrol station/plaza and there were a bunch of hippies there. Over the weekend while camping, I wrote a story about one of the hippies constantly bumping into a girl while she was camping. It was weird, but fun :)

  3. I love seeing how and where other writers get their ideas! Good for you for being so open and observant on this trip, Lynn. Inspiration really is everywhere!

  4. I remember my mother using a washer very similar to that one. The photo gave me a story idea as well. Thanks.

  5. I do remember how wringer washer and put rubber diapers through that wringer diapers and explodes and I ruined a couple of shirts
    Did you ever get anything caught in a wringer?or ruined a couple of shirts?

  6. Anonymous8:55 AM

    This was a lovely post.

    I'm actually searching for the "right" last name for a character of mine. Maybe I'll start paying attention to license plates. :)

    Glad you enjoyed your trip!

  7. We used to have one of those wringer washers! My grandma always told the story of how one female relative got her...*ahem* delicate protruding body part stuck in one. Ouch. But I do believe it was the one and only time I ever heard my grandma say the T word. Haha. My mom used to let me feed sheets through since you could make a 'tail' out of one end and keep it far from your fingers. :-)

  8. I'm never without my camera and am always taking photos of one thing or another. I love these three in your post, and the little story bites.

    I was also on a road trip this past weekend, madly taking pictures, though mine were more ocean/waves/weather shots that I will use when writing the beach scene I'm working on.

  9. The bush is really a tulip magnolia tree which produces a few blossoms through the year during warm spurts of weather in hopes it will stay warm enough to bloom.

    The one in my front yard has a few blossoms on it most of the time except for the dead of winter and high summer, but it really produces a great show of blossoms in mid-spring.

  10. I want the Rumplestiltskin thing. O.o

  11. I used a wringer washer like that one until I was 18 and moved out of my mother's house. She continued to use it until I was 26 and bought her an electric washer. She never did want the dryer and continued to hang her clothes out on the line, summer and winter. I danced with the frozen clothes when I was little, making believe they were people caught by nature.

    Wow, I haven't thought of that stuff in forever.

    I really, really like the window picture!

  12. You have such great pics--are you on Pinterest? It's like an online bulletin board and you could keep your WIP pics there : )


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