Revisiting My Popcorn Tree

Is spring ever coming?

Four years ago I was invit­ed to post on the Work­ing Stiffs blog on the last day of March. All month oth­er writ­ers had post­ing writ­ing hints. What could I write? I looked my win­dow and thought—inspiration!

Popcorn TreeWhat did I see? A pop­corn tree. Well, it did­n’t look like a pop­corn tree just then, but it had ear­li­er. I’d had to take a pic­ture. You know it wasn’t ACTUALLY a pop­corn tree. It was a tree with branch­es com­plete­ly devoid of leaves, but snow had gath­ered in so many heavy clumps it remind­ed me of lit­tle pop­corn balls. That day, I decid­ed there had to be a sto­ry there some­where! So, how could I use a pop­corn tree? This is what I wrote…

I’ll go to my inspi­ra­tion col­lec­tion, writer­ly quotes I’ve col­lect­ed over the years. My very favorite is one I’ve print­ed up and taped right over my com­put­er. I glance at it every day, and try to do my best:

That was the moment I changed from an ama­teur to a pro­fes­sion­al. I assumed the bur­den of the pro­fes­sion­al which is to write even when you don’t want to, don’t much like what you are writ­ing, and aren’t writ­ing par­tic­u­lar­ly well.” Agatha Christie

But today, I need more advice, some­thing that gath­ers my notes and gives me direc­tion. Per­haps this one:

Keep a note­book, hon­ey, and some­day it will keep you.” Mae West

Sor­ry, not that one. (I could only wish!) Aha! How about the next quote?

The secret of being a bore is to tell every­thing.” Voltaire

Oops, that does SO not go with Mae’s quote. But I have more quotes.

Nev­er con­fuse a sin­gle defeat with a final defeat.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

VERY use­ful when one is busy sub­mit­ting that love­ly man­u­script to a mul­ti­tude of agents, but does it help me today? I must dig deeper.

Always remem­ber, per­se­ver­ance is as impor­tant as tal­ent.” Dean Koontz

The pro­fes­sion­al writer is the ama­teur who didn’t quit.” Richard Back

Yes, I am inspired. I can do it. Let me think a bit. How about a children’s sto­ry. Maybe a pic­ture book man­u­script. Except I’m a mys­tery writer. But are there pic­ture book mys­ter­ies? Could be the first of a col­lec­tion of “what-is-it?” pic­tures, you know, the close-up that doesn’t pro­vide enough exter­nal clues to.… How about an adult mys­tery. It could make a good title: Dead Under The Pop­corn Tree, or Mur­der By Pop­corn. No, no, that’s real­ly bad! How about.… Is that anoth­er quote I hear bang­ing on my door?

Don’t think! Think­ing is the ene­my of cre­ativ­i­ty. It’s self-con­scious, and any­thing self-con­scious is lousy. You can’t try to do things; you sim­ply must do them.” Ray Bradbury

There you go! And guess what? That’s the quote I’ll use. Just plunk a pop­corn tree down on the web­site, and ram­ble (with quote col­lec­tion in hand).

Have you ever seen a pop­corn tree? How about some oth­er strange and won­der­ful sight that inspired you? Did you find advice that real­ly helped? I must admit, the first one I quot­ed here has helped me through many a ses­sion of writ­ing that was not going par­tic­u­lar­ly well. Do you have a favorite quote?

Yes, that was it. But the web­site, Work­ing Stiffs is no longer active. But they have kept all the old posts active. There are a lot of good posts. Find mine here at Work­ing Stiffs, then look for others.

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