Monday, December 19, 2011

Writers Always Steal

It's true, we writers listen in on conversations, read what others have written, and when it suits we make it ours. My children used to introduce me to friends, " This is my mom, the writer. Be careful what you say. It can and will be used in a book."

It works like this sometimes...I have an idea for a picture book I want to write. The story is about a Navajo girl who wants to learn to weave but she is given the task of herding the sheep instead...Not sure where I can go with this story. The idea came from reading a non-fiction book on Navajo weaving.

Then presto I am hiking in the canyon with a Navajo friend who tells me a story about their sheep. Her nephew was herding them and how a bear got one of the sheep and they found the remains in the woods. Of course I am a little dense sometimes, until it hits me. Like a gift this friend has given me the answer to how to write my picture book. I think maybe not a bear but a coyote will work.

Yes, always stealing snippets of conversation, ideas from books, magazines, news programs. I am not suggesting plagiarizing or copying. I am suggesting that we writers take in what we see and hear around us and make it ours...a new take on a theme that is already out there. Or a new theme for an old idea.

And talking about stealing, another friend, writer, Leslie Davis Guccione shot me a picture of the Christmas tree HER friend made out of driftwood they collected on the beach. I miss the beach. I live in the desert. I want a tree like that.

Wait a minute...there are tons of wind blown and water- sogged bits of wood on the mesa behind my house. I dragged it home, daily, often under cover of dark so no one would see this crazy woman with twigs sticking out of her backpack, dragging more behind...late evening walks with my res dog, Reena.

I saved that wood for a year, piled in the laundry room. And built my own Mesa wood Christmas tree. Same idea, new theme... a gift from the friend of a friend who doesn't even know I stole her idea. I think she got the idea from something she saw in a gift shop. See? Stealing.

Happy holidays. With thanks for friends... who share tidbits, ideas and stories that I steal turn into something new and exciting.


dave Howard said...

Musician always steal

Candy Lyons said...

Karen, you are so right! Love the tree. Amazing.

writingdianet said...

I LOVE your tree, Karen. I have a driftwood mobile that someone made me. Now I want a found wood Christmas tree!

And you are so right, EVERYTHING we writers takes in becomes fodder for a story.

Merry Christmas:)

(P.S. I found you via Heidi.)

Ian Rawson said...

So that's what those elderly women are doing coming down from Terre Nette with bundles of sticks on their head! They're making Christmas trees for their Kay Pay! IGR

Dennis M said...

Can you say "intellectual property rights"?