One of my faithful readers asked me recently how I got the inspiration for writing one of my recent eBooks, which prompts this response. As I’ve probably mentioned already, a writer often (or should I say usually) has no control over the impressions that enter his or her mind. I use “enter” loosely, as those impressions are always in there, having accumulated over the course of a lifetime. But there is, sadly, no efficient filing system in the human brain, or at least none that I am aware of. I liken my own collection of memories and impressions to a bunch of plastic totes stacked in a corner and that I haven’t gotten around to organizing yet.
The inspiration for “The House” came from a particular memory I have of an old house that some neighborhood kids and I came across one day in our childhood meanderings. I grew up on Bradbury Street in Biddeford, Maine, and in those days, development had not yet claimed many of our favorite haunts. One of those was a neglected piece of property located at the far end of Mason Street, which culminates near an old abandoned water tower and an old building that was then used as a Boy Scout hall. (The “then” refers to a time period that ran from roughly 1962 to 1965.)
This property also shared a boundary toward the west with that of the old Trull Hospital on May Street, which had long since closed and had not yet reopened as a nursing home. That would come later. But before that, we had discovered a small house nestled in that space of shrubby neglected acreage and which appeared to be the home of one elderly woman whose name I was never to know. I had seen her on one of my solitary jaunts one day coming outside and standing in the tall overgrown grass of her back yard. Later, however, when I went back with a couple of chums, it appeared that the old woman was gone and that the house was empty. So kids being kids, we decided to take a closer look, and found to our delight that the back door was indeed unlocked, allowing us easy entry.
And that’s where the “what if” element of writing kicks in. Up until that point, my description of the house and my earliest experiences with it are autobiographical. What comes later is pure speculation on my part, as I have no idea whatsoever as to what effect going into that old house had on any of the other kids, or if it even had any at all. Perhaps I’m the only one who remembers it this clearly and fondly, and I have no answer to the question of why a writer’s mind clings so faithfully to such memories, and why they take on so much importance later in life.
They just do, and I no longer question it, but rather make myself completely available for those random and completely unpredictable moments when they decide to visit again…
“The House” is available in eBook format at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KO3AYB8