by Natalie Bright
A wise, multi-published author once told me, “NEVER delete anything.” I’ve made it a habit to save every idea and story. Cut and paste deleted scenes, dialogue, and chapters, and move them into a separate file. Give it a clever name on your computer, like “My Junk” or “Brilliant Ideas”. Keep an idea file folder for those story sparks that you’ve written on restaurant napkins, scraps of paper, or sticky notes. Never let an idea pass through your brain that you don’t write down. Keep an idea journal and jot down everything when it comes to you, whether it’s a setting, a character, or a bit of dialogue. Those sparks will never come again, and believe me, you might think you’ll recall it when you get to a pen and paper, but I’ve never been able to remember. Not even once. Thank goodness there have been a few times I made the effort to save a story.
|Natalie Bright Photos|
Many, many years ago during college, I spent time at a friend’s ranch. Their ranch foreman was an old cowboy that had a story or two to tell. Wise and weather worn from spending a life-time punching cows, I remember he had the most brilliant blue eyes and he was one of the most laid-back, happiest people I’d ever met. He loved his life. Even though his wife had died many years ago and he never had children, he wouldn’t have lived anywhere else and done anything different. He was content with his world of cows, horses, and days spent in the saddle. A spark of an idea turned into a story about that man many more years later for a writing class assignment. I never thought about it again, but thank goodness I kept it in my class notes.
Fast forward another ten years, a callout popped up into my inbox asking for stories for a Christmas collection with a West Texas theme. That cowboy and his life immediately came to mind. I reworked it that very day, and within 30 minutes of my submission, I got confirmation back that it was accepted.
Have faith in the words you create. You never know where and when they find a home.
You can read my story “A Cowboy’s Christmas Blessing” in this anthology West Texas Christmas Stories of more than 30 heart-warming and humorous Christmas stories—all set in West Texas or by West Texas writers.
Natalie Bright is a Chicken Soup author, freelance writer, and her book, Gone, Never Forgotten, is about the loss of an infant son. She blogs at WordsmithSix.com and Prairie Purview. Her literary Agent is currently shopping a picture book and two kid lit novels set in the old west.