It is amazing how many approach me with a character, topic, or general premise and tell me I absolutely have to write about it. It usually begins something like “Do I have an idea for you.” Ninety-nine percent of the time, their effort is wasted. You see, an idea has to resonate with an author before he or she can write about it and have it ring true. Editors sometimes come to me with ideas they want to add to their lists and, as often as not, I turn them down because they’re just not something I’m interested in or they aren’t something I feel I could devote a substantial block of time from my life to research and write about. The author needs to “own” an idea, to make it his or her own. This brings me to yesterday. I was sitting in my cardiologist’s office. Kirk is young. He’s from the East Coast. Most of the 45 minutes of my allotted appointment with him every six months is spent in chit-chat–the swarm of bees he found hanging in the mesquite tree–“almost like an old man’s beard”–over his BMW one morning when he came out to go to work, jogging trails in and around Tucson that we’ve tackled together and individually, and/or old-school versus new-school doctoring. (He’s of the old-school philosophy where time spent with patient is more important than corporate bottom line, which explains why he’s in private practice.) Then, without the do-I-have-an-idea-for-you prelude, he launched into telling me something from his childhood upbringing about which he is passionately fascinated. “Tell me more,” I said, and he did.
“You know,” said I, “I see a book in that.” It sounded like a topic I could make my own.
And he told me even more. He pulled up information on his laptop, showed me pictures, and offered his materials to me if I want to use them.
At the end of our now seventy-five minutes together he said, “Keep jogging. Keep cycling. You’re doing all the right things to be heart healthy and strong.”
I will also keep listening because out of every one hundred ideas pitched at an author at conferences, online at the market, and at the doctor’s office, there may be one that proves to be a gem.
I’m taking some time off to write, but plan to return in late fall. Have a happy Memorial Day and take a moment to remember your blessings and those who have helped to make them possible. Happy Summer, all!