Friday, July 5, 2013

Catching Fireflies

Ideas are like fireflies.

When I was a child, growing up in the South, we called them lightning bugs. In the spring, with more yellow glowing flickers appearing toward dusk the beginning of summer, fireflies captured our interest and our imaginations.

First the mason jar, then the canning lid and sealing ring. Second, a nail and hammer. With gentle taps on the nail head--a few slips and a lightly smashed finger or two later--and tiny holes dot the metal of the lid.

Breathless, insides zinging, the after sundown coolness takes away the sticky heat of the day. The cool of the night is forgotten in the excitement of catching the lightning bugs. We run, with many squeals and dodges, to gently cup the fireflies in our hands.
Cupped in my hand, how do they light and not burn? The flickers light the flesh of my hand, and I press my eye to the open circle of my thumb. The lightning bugs crawl over my inner fingers and palms, bringing their magic to the night.

Held inside the jar for a brief time, the fireflies blink and glow, making a childhood memory as magical as any that I recall.

In the book Manuscript Makeover, Revision Techniques No Fiction Writer Can Afford to Ignore by Elizabeth Lyon suggests we catch fireflies of ideas by carrying around a notepad, because ideas are "difficult to catch if you don't act quickly."

Like fireflies on a spring or summer night, ideas appear bright and shiny, but also can provide distraction from the current project. Currently, I am revising the first book in a five-book series, with four more to go.

Yet, the blinking glow of a firefly of an idea tempts me to run barefoot in the grass, hands cupped, reaching outward...

Task at hand: Book #1 Series #1 Revision.

BUT, I've got this idea about my next series you see, then about another one in another genre, plus there's this concept for a trilogy of standalone books, with a fourth book that brings the characters together, growing like a fungus in my head. AND what about the OTHER genre I want to give a try, there's a three trilogy series of books that I'd love to dive into and write.

Task at hand: Revise current series.

So, I step back, make notes about future book ideas, series, characters, etc., then I focus on revision. My reward when I finish the series? You guessed it! I get to pick one of the future ideas and move on to the next project.

For now, I twist open the jar lid and let the fireflies go.

Read, Revise, Edit, Read Aloud, Repeat.

Wait, what was that yellow glow I saw out of the corner of my eye?

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