Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol. 21  No. 1
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Write It Down—Now

Most of my stories start off in my Notes app as stray words and sentences that only make sense to me. Sometimes they’re specific images that have been seared into my mind: Avila mountain in flames or tattooed white eyeliner. Sometimes, I’ll jot down little snippets of overheard conversation—“well, the world has to end someday,”—or eccentricities, afraid of peacock feathers, for characters I have yet to make up.

No matter where I am, I know the Notes app is always there, waiting for me. It’s the one, redeeming thing about our collective phone addiction: it allows me to write down every idea, however trivial, in an instant. I’ve woken up in the middle of the night and jotted down hazy, typo-ridden dreams into my phone. I’ve pulled up the Notes app at a stoplight and dashed in a plot point or a character name or a setting description before the light turns green. One time, the opening sentence of a story came to me while I was showering and I stepped out, naked and dripping wet, to type in the line—All the koi fish were dead—while water dripped down my fingers and onto the glass screen.

Whenever I feel stuck, the first thing I do is scroll through this endless list of ideas. I’ll choose a random note and turn it into a sentence and then turn into a scene until suddenly I’m staring at a story, like “People Like Us,” which once started off as two simple words: surrogate mother.  

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