When a sentence like this pops into your head: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” you better be armed with a napkin or notebook.
On the bridge over the highway, some preschool children were waving at the cars passing by underneath. A truck driver spotted them and honked his horn, and the children jumped up and down in delight. I jotted down the story in my always-present notebook.
At the grocery store, my eyes caught a young woman with a long shopping list and a story started to spin in my head on my way to the milk shelves. I imagine that she’ll be hosting a dinner for her picky in-laws and has prepared an exact list of ingredients for the three courses she plans to serve but is not quite qualified to make. Notebook time.
From snippets of everyday moments like these, great stories can be born. Maybe the truck driver is transporting red apples from Italy, and maybe the young woman with the long shopping list will buy some for her apple pie. There’s a line running from a family’s apple farm in the south of Europe to a truck driver spending endless hours behind the wheel, honking his horn at a group of children while missing his own, to a desperate rookie cook at a Nordic grocery store shopping for a dreaded family dinner.
Of course, the beauty would be to write the actual stories of the people we meet. Like the one of the man who stood bent in a 45-degree angle over a garbage bin he used as a stand for his beer cans, hacking and hawking and coughing up a slimy glob that landed a couple of feet away from him. He gave me a friendly “Hello” as I walked by. I waved back. I wonder what his story is. He’s in the notebook, too.
Great ideas thrive in a great notebook. I have checked out five: Hunting for the perfect notebook