01 May 2013

Restless Brain Syndrome

by Robert Lopresti

(Happy May Day!  All the photographs are by my brother Tom LoPresti, used by permission  See more of his work here.)  

I have written before about the seasons of  a writer's lfe, which have no necessary connection with the weather the natural world is producing  Nonetheless I seem to be experiencing a writer's spring this season.

Writer''s spring is the period when ideas seem to be popping up everywhere like seedlings out of the ground.

Here is a for-instance.  Normally I average about one song per month.  (By no coincidence I belong to a songwriting group that meets once a month.  I like to have something to bring there.)  But in the first seventy days of this year I wrote zero songs.  In the month that followed I averaged one a week.  Welcome to spring!

My brain seems to be open to stimuli right now in ways that don't happen nearly often enough.  Last week I was in a grocery store and I saw a young couple walking into the store.  I heard her say "..was an impulse buy."

I'm sure the missing word was "It" or "That" but my restless brain immediately went in a different direction.  I yanked out my notebook and started scribbling.

He was strictly an impulse buy
Not exactly her kind of guy
But he might just be worth a try
Filling a lonely night

By the time I was home and the groceries were unpacked the whole song was waiting to be typed.

 I have mentioned, probably too often, that I won the Black Orchid Novella Award last December.  I have lately been pondering writing another story with the same characters.  Thje first one was titled "The Red Envelope," which was a hat-tip to Rex Stout's novel The Red Box (the BONA is given out by the Wolfe Pack, which promotes Stout's works and menory).

I have a list of possible titles based on other Stout books, for future stories in the series.  I have been pondering "The Second Audition," suggesting Stout's The Second Confession.  But until a few weeks ago I had nothing but a title.  Then I got an idea I really liked, involving a mystery much more puzzling than a murder: a why-done-it.  The only problem was, I had no idea what the solution to the puzzle should be.. 

Then I woke up at three AM and the solution was staring me in the face.  Easy!

Recently Jan Grape wrote a lovely piece here about the middle-of-the-night-idea dilemma.  Do you get out of bed and write it down, or trust your memory?  I pondered that question for several minutes.  The idea seemed so good that I didn't believe it would vanish by morning.  On the other hand, putting it to paper might calm my restless brain and help me sleep.  Besides, Jan's piece was a good reminder of what can happen if you go nighty-night, so I dug up a pen and paper and wrote down two sentences.

That idea is still sprouting branches.  We will see if I ever get around to writing it.

A day, a week, or a month from now the writer's spring in my head will die away and I will need to start growing the little blossoms into something that can be harvested.  But this is my favorite time of the metaphoric year.


  1. Great post, Rob. Your process sounds a lot like mine. And I loved the song lyric. Where can we hear some of your music?

  2. Love the cherry blossom photo- how do you get any work done with those in the neighborhood?

  3. Liz, thanks. Here is one of my songs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAfXRflFGyU You can hear some bits at cdbaby.com, as well.

    Janice, you would have to ask Tom!

  4. Great post, and I'm so glad you made yourself get out of bed to write down the idea. It would have been gone by morning--I know all too well. I'm happy you're having such a productive spring so we have more to read and listen to! And Tom's photos are a great addition to your post.

  5. We are having a huge snowstorm today in Colorado. I can only read your post and sigh. Ah, Spring. You are out there *some*where...

  6. Recently read your award winning novella "The Red Envelope" the July/August 2013 AHMM. Like your post, the novella is great.

  7. Louis, thanks for the kind words. My next entry, May 15th, will be all about The Red Envelope.


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>