Writing Out Loud

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Sudden Inspiration

This is a continuation of a theme I started yesterday on how I come up with writing material. All I can say is that it’s not always a deliberate undertaking. After years of crafting visible thought using nothing but words, a writer becomes more adept at knowing a story when he or she sees one. And this is how this one took shape.

Several years ago, I worked as a cook (yes, a cook) at a small assisted living facility. There, I had the privilege of getting to know one of the residents who happened to be of German origin, a tall very distinguished lady who kept to herself a lot due to a language barrier that her son claimed was all in her mind. In any case, I conversed with her as best as I could, and it was often, needless to say, an exercise in frustration to try to figure out just what it was she was trying to say.

The inspiration for the story came one afternoon when she brought a small purse to me just I was getting ready to leave for the day. It seemed that the inside pocket zipper of the purse was stuck, and she wanted to know if I could fix it. When I looked inside the purse, smelled its musty oldness, and examined its quaint detail, I was immediately transported to another time.

Where had this old purse come from, and where had it been in its long history? E. was German, in her eighties, which would have placed her as a young woman right smack-dab in the middle of the Holocaust years. Of what little I had heard, I knew that she had come to the U.S. only within the last few years, so my imagination took off.

During a chat one day with a visitor and friend of hers, I learned that E. never spoke of those war years, but I was never to learn why, as I left that job not long after that. I can still remember the sensation that washed over me the first time I looked inside that purse, and the impressions I got when I looked inside that purse have never left me and never will.

“The Purse” is available in eBook format at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K2B16KU