Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It Wasn't Samuel Goldwyn Or Adolph Zukor

I brought my mother back to her apartment Sunday afternoon. The whole process took several hours, and in spite of her relaxing month in the nursing center, by the time she was settled back in, neither she nor I were any younger.

I was pondering the injustice of all this Monday morning, as I sat on my exercycle and peddled away to last week's episode of TCM's series, Moguls & Movie Stars: A History Of Hollywood .I was in Texas when it was on last week, and my goal is to not fall even an episode behind (I'll watch last night's episode later this week).

Episode 2 was about the transition to Hollywood and the rise of both the moguls and the movie stars. It didn't tell me anything I hadn't at one point or another in my life known, and it skipped some things I did know, like that Tom Mix's death rated a top of the fold front page New York Times obit (I used to have a trivia question where I asked people to name the stars that got top of the fold front page NY Times obits, and he was the one no one ever got). But these kinds of shows are always entertaining, and I was enjoying it when one of the names caught my attention.

That would be a good name for a character, I said to myself as I peddled away. Boy or girl, I asked. Boy, I decided (peddle, peddle, peddle*). So who is the boy with the great name? Well, he could be a...

That's as far as I'm taking you. But as I watched and peddled, and then as I meandered about the apartment and later took my mother to the doctor for her checkup, and did all those everyday sorts of things, my brain worked on this possible new idea for a novel.

Am I going to write it? I dunno. It's outside my comfort zone, so there'd be work involved. On the other hand, this morning before I got out of bed, I developed the plot some more. The characters are talking, and I've visited Popular Baby Names**, so the ones who didn't get named from Moguls & Movie Stars at least have temporary names to go by. I ran the idea by my friend Christy, and she didn't hang up, always a good sign. And I do have a long winter ahead of me with nothing scheduled except football and figure skating and taking care of my mother. No trips, no Olympics.

But whether I write the book or not, I did learn a lesson, and that is fiction exists to distract. That's why people read novels (Christy agreed to this). That's at least one reason why I write them. My woe is me mood vanished as soon as I began thinking about this character and that and where the story could go.

I have to spend the week cleaning the apartment because my cousin Fran is coming for a Thanksgiving visit and she's allergic to cats.*** But dusting and vacuuming aren't nearly so bad if you have an idea to play with!

*That's like a sound effect, which is a very classy thing to have in a blog, and is proof that I was a film major at NYU. The * is also pretty darn classy. In fact, this blog entry would get a higher grade than I ever got for any of my papers at NYU.

**The best website ever.


Purr! Achoo!!


grrlpup said...

You might like this baby-name site too-- type in a name and it shows a graph of its popularity over the years.

Anonymous said...

Hey, sorry it has been so long. I have been just so cought up in school and this new story I am working on. I made an 8 page CONDENSED version of it for creative writing club. everybody who read it LOVED or Liked it, but my creative writing teacher HATED it. She tore down my story and writing style where to the point I was holding back tears and my face must have turned a million different shades of red. She was my first hater. She didn't like the romance; the whole shabang. Then at the end she put a band-aid on a bullet wound by saying, "It was a good concept though." Enough with my drama. Ok, since you are my favorite author of like all times, I would love to know you would like read it and tell me what you think of it. To tell you I handle constructive criticism VERY well.I just don't handle hate well. I would be honored if you want to read it. Tell me if you do and I'll e-mail it to you.

Thank you,
Sunshimne :-)

Anonymous said...

*Sunshine :-)

Lupe said...

It's amazing how just a simple thought or idea may develop in to a fantastic novel. If you ever publish it, I'll surely get myself a copy! ^_^


Fear Death By Water said...

a word of warning: you WILL lose hours of your life on the following website:


that is all.

hope you enjoy your beverages. you, my friend, deserve it.

ps. word thingy is eateri ... is that like a deli? bet it is.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to grrlpup and Sunshine and Lupe and Fear Death By Water (all of whom I should have said hi to a couple of days ago)-

For decades, I used a book called Names For The Baby. I'm not sure when I got it, but it could have been as early as high school and most likely it was remaindered, so I bought it cheap. It was always a professional tool; I wasn't planning on naming my own babies.

My favorite name from that book that I never used was Quenby, which they claimed was a variant of Queenie or some such thing.

Anyway, I can lose myself for hours and hours on name sites. In Blood Wounds, the heroine is Willa, which didn't show up at all in 1000 Most Popular Names, but in some What To Name Your Baby website that I turned to in desperation.

See. I take 2 days to respond to comments, but once I start, I don't stop!

Elaine Marie Alphin said...

I love that you're excited about a new book idea, even if it means work - I bet it would prove more enjoyable work than apartment cleaning (even though, like your cousin, I'm allergic to cats). And think how much pleasure it would give your many readers, including me! Much more pleasure than apartment cleaning will give one, however valued, cousin. So run with it - your imagination clearly is!

Happy plotting (one more thing to give thanks for this week),

Marci said...

Movie Moguls is a great series! I happened on it by accident. I now know why the movie industry moved from Ft Lee and NY to California. It was all Thomas Edison's fault.

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi to Elaine Marie Alphin and to Marci-

My brain is in the happy state it gets into when I'm plotting a book. Unfortunately, it doesn't always stay in that happy state when I'm doing the writing.

Then again, it's never in the happy state when I'm cleaning!