Friday, May 13, 2005

A Town Called Alice

There’s a town somewhere in Northeastern Georgia, tucked away at the end of a winding summer two-lane. It's overgrown with kudzu, overrun with smalltown corruption. And it’s not called Alice (with all apologies to Nevil Shute.) It’s my town. It lives in my imagination, and in a novel—as yet unwritten—of my creation. There’s industry and dusty Georgia backgrounds and subterfuge. There’s even one very atmospheric title that I’ve been toting around in my brainspace, for nobody but me right now. And, there is this town, a town of epic proportions and a name so evocative, that I tucked into a very important place until I was ready to use it: my mind.

Only, my mind has a mind of its own. And today I no longer know the name of my dusty-backroaded-industry-driven-something-right-outta-Faulkner-town. Kaput. Out of my head.

I’m heartsick. Not because I can’t produce another equally fabulous town name, but because somehow with this small slip, the fabric of my created worlds unraveled a little. The illusion fractured ever-so-slightly. Beyond that, I also realize that in not writing down the copious ideas that were in my mind a year ago (I swear there’s a notebook somewhere! There is!) on my laptop, I made a big mistake. Chalk that up to lesson number 509 that this agent didn’t follow for herself.

It was a symbolic name. A powerful name. A name worthy of a moody, atmospheric southern novel.

I’m thinking that perhaps if I tell myself at bedtime tonight that I must remember this name, that I will wake with it in my mental grasp. What do you fellow dreaming writers think?


Shannon McKelden said...

Absolutely! You might not get it tonight...but when you least expect it, if you let it, it will come to you. Don't tell yourself you need to hurry, because obviously you aren't going to write the book right now. It's there. Thoughts don't disappear. They are always there, somewhere. We all have access to them.

Sometimes we just have to not care so much to find them, in order for them to be found. :-)


Deidre Knight said...

Shannon, you are right. I don't need to panic. Just sleeeeeeeeep in....sleeeeeeep out.....deep sleeeeep in...deeep sleeeep out...

Anonymous said...

Acutally if you just put the thought out there that you want to remember it then I suspect it will pop into your mind when you least expect it. Conversely, an author, Sarah Douglass I believe, when she has a plot point she needs or when she needs a solution to a probelm in her stories will take a bath and tell her subconcious "okay I need the answer by Thursday of this week." And sure enough there it is right on time. What if you tried telling your subconcious "I need to remember the name of my town" by such and such a date?

Jeanne Damoff said...

I agree with Shannon and Bonnie. My brain does this to me all the time. It used to be so nicely organized, but over the years the records department has gotten way too cluttered. With increasing frequency I reach for a file--I know it was here yesterday--and come up empty handed.

But I don't sweat it. My husband has grown accustomed to my saying things like, "I'll think of her name later and tell you." Then I continue the conversation, sans name. A couple of hours later, usually when I'm doing dishes or some other mindless activity, I'll say, "Bernice." He knows exactly what I'm talking about.

If you ignore it, I bet your town name will eventually come find you--like a mischievous kid who hides in the closet until he realizes you've stopped looking for him. Stories can be petulant, but they like attention. :)

Anonymous said...


I'm praying as we speak that it comes to you. It's a hard lesson to learn, I know. But as the others have commented, it'll come when you quit pushing for it.

Deidre Knight said...

Okay, you've all convinced me! I will remember! :) It is amazing, though, isn't it how the mind works? This might be an interesting thought experiment. To see if and when I can retrieve this name. :) Thanks so much, y'all.

Anonymous said...

Deidre, this reminds me of the night my husband and I got engaged. We went out to dinner and then drove to this downtown park overlooking the Pacific. I kind of had a feeling something was up, because he was talking about our relationship at dinner--what man does that? :) A beautiful song came over the radio, and I thought to myself, "In case we get engaged tonight, I need to remember this song always." I planned to write the name of the song in my journal as soon as we got home.

We did get engaged. The next morning, when I went to record the night in my journal, I went to write the name of the song, it zipped out of my head and I haven't gotten it back since.

May you have better success!


Deidre Knight said...

I had to laugh because there have been more moments where I think, "This song will be forever imprinted in my mind for THIS MOMENT." Later, no go. Thank goodness I'm married to the human encyclopedia b/c he usually can help me out if he was there (songs from our honeymoon, for instance, he has well-catalogued.)
:) D