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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ideas Spring Eternal, Much Like Hope


I don't care, I'm doing it anyway.
I'm not going to pretend that scores of interviewers beg to know where my book ideas spring from, I'm not that good of a liar and even my fertile imagination boggles at such a stretch of the truth. However, despite the public's lack of interest in the origin of my ideas, I'm going to write about them anyway because, well, because I want to. 

One of my favorite idea-generating locales is art museums. Sometimes, I find a piece of art that seems to beg for a story. It's usually not the most famous, or largest, or even one many people actually look at for more than an instant that catches my eye and stirs my imagination. I find I'm more interested in the painting in the corner, the one most likely unknown. For instance, last week my sister and I spent five days in New York City doing what we both love--visiting art museums. For some of you, I realize the idea of spending hours looking at art is a serious waste of precious shopping time, but to Meg and I, it's a wondrous thing to do and no place better than NYC. That's not to say it's has the best art museums in the world, there are too many incredible places to say such a thing, still it's a fine city for museums. 


We went to the MOMA (home of an impressive collection of moderns, including Van Gogh's Starry Night), the Frick (all I can say is wow, what a collection of beautiful art including, are you sitting down, four Vermeer's, three in the permanent collection), the American Folkart (love, love, love folkart), the Neu (it has some Klimt's, sigh), and the Met, which has a little bit of everything. 


It was at the Met, where I found a gem of a picture that begs for its story to be told. This gentle family portrait caught my eye, so I looked closer at the little girl. 

Look at her face, her eyes, her expression. So sad and yet so compelling. The description explained that most likely the child was dead and the painting was done in honor of her. Oh my goodness, how tragic. With her story in mind, I pondered possible scenarios while walking  through the galleries, which seemed endless, so endless that my sister and I nearly laid down on the marble floor and took a nap-the only reason we didn't was the fear that the camera happy throngs snapping photo after photo would be too busy staring into their phones to notice us.

Anyway, I've done a brief outline of the little girl's story and once I finish my several projects, I will write a story about her and her family. 

So there you have it. And despite your lack of interest or desire to really know any of this, I quote Henry Fielding (the great 18th century English writer and magistrate who established the mechanisms of the modern novel through such works as Tom Jones and Amelia.) When I'm not thanked at all, I'm thanked enough, I've done my duty, and I've done no more. 

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