As I’ve told you before, I’m a confirmed Brainstormer, or BSer, as my group fondly calls itself. I just finished a week in Sarasota, Florida with my brainstorming friends working on ideas for our upcoming novels. Please remember, the plans for this event were laid months ago. We didn’t check weather maps or consult a crystal ball. I had no idea that the Washington DC area, where I live, would have a historic snowstorm, the largest on record, while I was away, or the view from my front windows would be the one in this photo. No idea, nada.
But wow, did we choose our week well, or what? I’m a great fan of history. I just prefer not to witness this kind first hand, particularly not when my author friends are calling, our view is a lake with an alligator snoring in the sunshine, and the only objects falling from the sky are ospreys searching for dinner.
So what if now that we’re finished, I can’t get home again? Southwest Airlines apparently objects to 30″s of snow on airport runways, but no problem for me. I am snugly settled at my brother’s house in Tampa for the duration, having at brith been lucky enough to acquire a sibling who would have the good sense to live not far from the very airport where I’d be forced to wait for Snowmageddeon to cease in Virginia.
Meantime, while I wait, I’m bursting with ideas I want to translate to paper. A brainstorming group is NOT the same as a critique group. We don’t read passages of our work out loud to solicit comments and advice. We are all confident in our abilities to put our stories on paper–although when we’re actually doing it, we often wonder. Instead during our week together, in ten one-and-a-half hour sessions and five tarot readings for characters, we worked on skeletal plots, plumping them out or more often turning them inside out. Some of us started with bare bones ideas; some just needed advice on a few points in their works in progress (my Sunset Bridge among others). We plotted an international thriller, a paranormal mystery, an inspirational novel, a traditional mystery, a women’s fiction story. We discussed at length two ideas for upcoming series–one of those mine. Some of us worked on different ideas at each session, and some stuck to one.
My job now that I’m temporarily marooned, is to transcribe the tapes I made during my sessions. What will I find? From experience, I’m sure I’ll discover many, many half-formed ideas that lead nowhere. I’ll listen to ideas that have no appeal or are impossible to implement, ideas that just didn’t fit this story but are worthy of consideration for another, ideas with possible merit. And finally, there will be THE ideas, the ones that are like fireworks displays when they erupt. “Ka-ching” ideas that are the missing pieces I’ve been searching for. There won’t be many. But two or three for a week of hard work? Believe it or not, that’s enough to fuel a novel.
Brainstorming is wonderful. I’m delighted by my fellow BSers. I like their wit and their insights. I love our dinner conversations, when we finally have the chance to catch up with each others’ lives. But brainstorming is surprisingly exhausting. At the end of a day’s work, we go to bed early and sleep well. Very, very well.
So once Southwest decrees it’s safe to fly, I’ll go back to the land of ice and snow. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy a few more days of sunshine. And I’ll put ideas on paper. Lots of ideas. I hope that in a year or two, I’ll be sharing them with you. After all, that’s what this past week was all about.