One of the common reactions to my writing is “I don’t know what goes on in your brain” – usually from my wife! To be fair, she has a point.
How many of us really understand why our brains work the way they do? I always resort to the general principle that, when I was a child, I would listen to the radio and have my imagination inspired by programmes like “The Navy Lark” or “The Clitheroe Kid”. (You’ll need to have been born before 1960 to recognise those titles.) I consider my solitary childhood habit to be a valid reason for why (in my more senior years) I became a quiet observer, regularly to be found daydreaming.
I am therefore often inspired to write by a random thought coming into my head – say while walking my dog, or even ironing a shirt. Specifically, a recent example would be the source of a short story (THE QUIET ONE), where I imagined an old lady going to seek help from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau – only her needs would be prompted by something totally out of the ordinary. That is the essence of story-telling: there needs to be something to spark the reader’s interest. Why write about a woman asking for help to claim Universal Credit, when instead she could be wanting to dispose of her husband?
But then logic has to play its part. Enter that good old question: “Why?”
Why would an old lady, perhaps married for many years, want to get rid of her partner? (Please don’t put that thought into my wife’s head!) So, in constructing my plot, I had to provide the answer in a believable way – and that made me consider how my heroine’s mind could have been damaged, so that what might seem irrational to others would be perfectly reasonable to her. Now I had my short story, and while it makes for an entertaining read, it also demonstrates the real presence of dementia, and how it can affect any of us.
THE QUIET ONE was placed Third in a monthly competition run by Writers’ Forum magazine (July 2022 edition), and has now been dramatised by JAPE Productions for their series of podcasts. You can listen to it HERE.
Need to know:
(I don’t just write fiction.