Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Gone Fishing

Back to the pond again. After handing in the revisions for my Roger Tory Peterson biography I am ready to go fishing for a new book idea. This is one of my favorite times when I can read in the middle of the day without feeling guilty that I'm not writing or washing the dishes. I drag out all of those scraps of paper holding hastily scribbled ideas and revisit previously past over subjects to see if they have fermented enough in the compost pile of my brain.

I tend to find that ideas need to sit in the dark like wilted lettuce, orange rinds, coffee grounds and egg shells. Under the layers of everyday thought they mesh and meld. An occasional stir now and then and soon new workable ideas surface. I see a different approach to an old subject that I hadn't seen before, or several bits combine to form an entirely new project.

Now is the time that I remember a librarian I met at the Rochester Children's book festival who rattled off several names of people kids learn about but there are no children's biographies about them. Do any have good stories to tell? I recall a radio show that mentioned Darwinian ideas long before Darwin, and watching on TV as an octopus uses a halved coconut like an undersea hovercraft. I throw out my hook and reel in a dozen books about forgotten aviation pioneers, women's rights activists, and nineteen century scientists. Will anything bite? I hope so. Something usually does, but they also might just end up in my mental compost pile until they are so ripe I can smell them. Then I have something new to write about.

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