Vacation…and the Writing Mind

by | Jun 1, 2010 | Fiction Book Reviews | 4 comments

I’m on vacation this week, so my blog posts might be a bit erratic. We are vacationing on the coast of South Carolina on a beautiful and wonderfully quiet island called Harbor Island. It’s not far from the city of Beaufort.

One of the things I like most about being a writer is the fact my mind is always in ‘writer mode’.  I’ll use a description given by award winning author Steven James when I heard him speak at BRMCWC a few weeks ago.

Someone in the audience asked him a question like this:

“Where do you get your ideas from? You have all these books out and more coming out all the time? How do you come up with all of the ideas for them?”

Steven answered (I’m paraphrasing), “If you don’t have ideas coming to you all of the time, then maybe the writing life isn’t for you. We writers are a weird bunch. We’re the kinds of people who stop in the middle of a walk to stare at a leaf because its’ coloring is unique. Or we’re the kinds of people who notice a man’s unusual gait and think of how we can describe it in a book.”

I’d also like to say that we’re the kinds of people who take a phrase we hear and spin it into a dialogue for a story, or overhear a conversation that perks a plot, or notice a quiet person at the pool and concoct a scenario about that person’s life.

Yes, we’re weird that way, but many times, that’s where stories come from. I can’t keep ideas out of my head. I don’t know about you, but I have tons more than I have time to write right now.

Today, as I walked along the beach with my three youngest children, I found a perfect seashell of rainbow colors. Beautiful. At first, I thought about keeping it…and then writer brain took over.

You know what happened?

A sudden CRAZY thought jumped into my head. What IF?

What if a perfect seashell was really a sea sprite who, when beached, turned into a perfect seashell to protect herself. Now she needed to be freed by someone tossing her back into the ocean? It makes NO logical sense, but that’s where my brain went.

Another thing happened as I walked along the shore this morning for a wonderful hour BY MYSELF! I came across a large, piece of wood which was formed like it belonged on a ship. One of those pieces that holds up a mast or something. My brain started jumping into writer-mode with that crazy phrase again… WHAT IF?

It was a piece of a shipwreck from one of the many pirates that scoured the seas along the South Caronlina Coast.

The instances go on – but that’s what I mean. As Vonda Skelton said at BRMCWC, “Writers are WEIRD People.”

We are -but weird in a wonderful way.

In a way that makes living life….inspiring 🙂


  1. cate tuten

    Pepper, here we are united again by geography–Tenn. and now SC because we have a house on the coast of SC, on an island called Edisto. We will be there on Thursday…..My mind works like yours and I have so many ideas in my head it could easily make me dizzy. But, unlike you, I don’t know if I could have thrown that gorgeous shell back into the ocean. I would have to rewrite the story and have her swimming free in the Atlantic because she left her coral home on shore, in order to become the sea princess she was meant to be!….Have a wonderful vacation!! Blessings, Cate

  2. Katie Ganshert

    So so true, Pepper! I love that you are in South Carolina right now!! You are such a help to me. Can’t wait to see more pictures. (very cool pic of the shell, btw). Enjoy your vacation!

  3. pepper

    Cate, no way you’re going to be up here?!? That’s awesome. I’ve heard great things about Edisto.
    I like the rewrite too, Cate. Might have to try that with the next shell 🙂
    Where do you live in Tn?

  4. Sherrinda

    I hope you are having a great time!!! I am biding my time until tomorrow is over and then I can begin to relax. Ahhhh

    Nice post! I love the “what if” part of a writer’s life. Sometimes I get blinded by the busyness of life and forget to let my mind wander.

    Love you, friend!


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