It's not that I don't have things to work on, because I am staring at a whole file of partially written stories, articles, and "sort of" books that I haven't decided where they are headed as yet. But today I am yearning for a new project. Notice I said "project"? Not book. Not story. Not article. How is that different?
Well, in my mind a project is something that is carefully planned to achieve a particular goal. When I wrote Oliver's Hunger Dragon, I had an idea and a plan and I knew where I wanted it to go. It was the same with The Great Camel Experiment of the Old West. And, it has been the same with every article and story I've had published in the last three years. Years ago, Writer's Digest published an article entitled, "9 Ways to Overcome Too Many Ideas Syndrome" or "TMIS".
Hello! That's me! I admit it, I have TMIS!
Anyway, in the article, the author compared a writer with too many ideas to someone standing in the cereal aisle at the grocers trying to decide which cereal to buy. And, while I read all nine ways she listed, it was the analogy that made me stop and think. How do I pick out the right cereal with dozens of different boxes staring at me? Do I go for nutrition? Do I go for taste? Do I go for the brightest, most colorful box? Ooo--then there is chocolate . . . . Sorry, I had to snap myself out of the chocolate trance and remind myself that I write for kids. So what do kids look for in the cereal aisle? According to my grand daughter, the perfect cereal comes in a colorful box and has tiny marshmallows. Okay, that helps me a lot. Not! But then she added, "and I can eat the whole box at one time."
So taking her advice, I wrote down the first 10 ideas that I felt could have a colorful plot. Next I filtered the 10 down to 5 by sorting out the ones that were too sweet for me right now. Those are the marshmallows. Unlike my grand daughter, I don''t care for tiny marshmallows. It's way to hard to roast them on a fork over the stove for our winter S'mores. Now if she said she picked cereal with the big ones, I would have to rethink my whole strategy, but for now sweet is out.
Looking over the final 5 ideas, there were two that could possibly sustain my passion for writing clear to the end. But out of the 2, one in particular makes me salivate. And what do you know, I have my idea. I guess, to quote Laker's Basketball Coach, Phil Jackson, “Once you’ve done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into action and put your heart on the line.” Or in my case, my pen on the line. See ya!