Yes, I certainly did. The author’s first commandment being, “Always carry a notebook and a pen.”
So I found myself on a bus to Lincoln last week Wednesday. It was early, just after school drop-off, and the sun was shining brightly on the green and lush Lincolnshire countryside as the bus trundled its way towards the city centre. Already the spires of the Cathedral were in full view, and the scenery was growing more suburban by the minute.
I was sitting on the top deck, idly minding my own business. Actually, I wasn’t minding my own business at all. I don’t recall thinking about anything in particular. I had no worries on my mind, no urgent tasks, no remnants of a frazzled morning to analyse. I was simply… sitting there. When, quite suddenly and completely out of the blue, an idea struck. What if a famous rock star, for a whole host of complicated reasons, had to up-end his life and start over, deep, deep under cover? Dah-dah-daaaang!
My nose twitched. (My nose always twitches when I’m onto something, idea-wise). Oh-uh. While the bus rambled on, its passengers oblivious of the creative avalanche in my brain, ideas for the story clicked into place like fragments of a jigsaw. Places, motivations, crisis points, laugh-out-loud potential… everything swirled round and settled into place faster than I could say (not out loud, of course), “hang on, I haven’t got a pen.”
Because yes, my friends, I had committed the unthinkable crime. I had left the house with a rucksack devoid of writerly implements. No notebook, no notepad, not even a pen with which to write on my bus ticket (tiny though it was, it would have been a scrap of hope!). I had nothing. Nada. Nixiplonks, as my other half would say. There was a reason for this of course. The previous Monday, I had got utterly drenched in a phenomenal rain storm, and I had to empty out my rucksack completely, disposing of notepads, pens, and various other things I habitually carry.
My fingers itched, and I was feeling frantic.
The problem wasn’t so much that I was fearful of losing the idea. The idea was firmly embedded in my head in broad strokes. No, the problem was that whole scenes were coming to me thick and fast, as though I’d already written the book and was germinating edits. This is what usually happens when I conceive a novel, except it usually happens in the middle of the night when I’m at home with access to all manner of writing accoutrements, most notably my laptop.
Worse! Next thing I knew, the bus pulled into my stop, and I had to hurl myself down the stairs so that I wouldn’t be carried further than I wanted.
Breathless and discombobulated, I paused under the big plane tree on Broadgate (if indeed it is a plane tree. Who am I to know these things? Details, details!) and dug out my mobile phone. Needs must!
That probably sounds like an inspired course of action to you, but you have to understand that my mobile phone is old. As in, seriously old. It’s the exact opposite of a smartphone. It makes calls and sends and receives texts, and that’s it. It does not access the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, email or my blog. It does not have voice-recognition or a pseudo-work-environment. But it does have a ‘to do’ list function.
For the next twenty minutes, I stumbled all over Lincoln, crossing various roads and only barely just dodging cars, bikers, and delivery trucks, while clumsily tapping the bare bones of my next novel into this ancient old phone one painstaking letter at a time. I would bet you that I was the epitome of the irresponsible phone user, and that many an irate driver shook their fist at me. But hey, I didn’t have a choice. I was a woman possessed.
I broke the author’s first commandment, and I had a sore thumb for days, but I rescued the plot, the plan, the grand idea. And that, people, means that you can look forward to yet another book in my catalogue. After Fallen for Rock (out 30 June) and my Christmas novella (Fairy Tale in New York, out in October or November) and my current work-in-progress (bringing you a glamorous rock star couple and their rather disastrous honeymoon with epic consequences, due for release in the spring of 2015), I have the next story in the hopper. And so the fun goes on!
But I counsel thee this. Never, ever, ever leave your house without a notepad and a pen. I shall learn my lesson, too!
Your turn! Have you ever been assailed by an idea, a concept, a thought, that you had to eternalise without any means of doing so? What did you do?