The writer’s toy box

I have a huge wicker toy box, left over from when our nieces, and then our great nieces and nephew were small. They headed for it whenever they came for a visit. But, today, most of its contents have been distributed elsewhere, since all current family members are beyond toys–or those toys at least–though I can’t bear to get rid of my metal jacks or the “writing board” game I played with years ago.

BUT, those toys are not what I have in my today toy box. Can you guess what I find in that?

Let’s lift the lid.

On top are those sometimes pesky story books full of imagination. Pesky? If they weren’t, why would I sometimes spend valuable thinking time, day or night, worrying about a person (or animal)  who has gotten themself into an awful pickle, and I don’t know how he or she will get out.  World problems–like  Greek debt or Iran sabre-rattling? The economy? Environmental worries?  No! What’s keeping my thoughts involved is concern for a character in a book I’m reading. And yes, I know the problem I muddle  is imaginary.  But, oh what fun to see a story line squeeze out.  (Think of a toothpaste tube . . .)

There are also problems created in my own fiction writing. They’re less troubling. In fact, they’re the fun part of this particular story book. I enjoy getting people into pickles, then organizing ideas to get them out. THAT kind of entertainment can and does give me pleasure for hours on end.  And it’s one reason fiction writers like me write.  They (we) enjoy creating and solving problems and puzzles. It is nice to be working out a puzzle we know we can solve when, in the “real” world, problems often seem beyond our control.

Digging further, how about this puzzle map of Arkansas? (Or whatever area map you keep in your own toy box.) And, look! Next to the puzzle is my old post card collection. I don’t have map puzzles or post cards depicting what are, to me, exotic, far-away places. These days my dreams stay closer to home, but what fun to find exotic places all around me here!  A cave with ancient petroglyphs? OOh, careful. How could knowledge that those exist cause problems for a character in my story?

How about a police raid on gambling and prostitution dens in “The Spa City” of Arkansas?  What resulting events could have an impact today?

Murder in a ghost-filled hotel built in 1886?  Imagine it.

Archeological treasures lying untouched in the dry caves along Buffalo National River (Arkansas) are now being looted almost as fast as thieves can carry them away.  Story characters intrude by accident.  Another real story lifted from a puzzle board map.

Oh! There’s the rubbed and worn old history game in its shabby box. You know what? When seen on the screen of human experience advancing from then to now (whether “then” is ten thousand or ten years ago), history is loads of fun. We know how the historic stories come out. Happy ending?  Maybe not, but it’s always a learning experience.  It’s said those who ignore what history teaches are bound to repeat it, but it doesn’t follow that it must be bad. I love grabbing past events and shoving them into motivation and insight for life today.

Dictionary? In my toy box? Yes. I love playing with words, moving them around to see how they sound and look in my mind pictures. Do you enjoy this game too?  I have heard many of these words spoken for years, but, if I’ve never written them down,  I’m not sure how to spell them.  When I guess correctly, the dictionary’s affirmation is fun to see.

These are just a small part of the things I enjoy pulling out of my writer’s/reader’s toy box. What do you have in yours?  Or haven’t you realized yet that you have a toy box like this?  (We both know that writing can be a lot of fun. Otherwise, why would we choose it as a career?)

Back to searching  inside my toy box, and . . .  Oh, LOOK!


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6 Responses to “The writer’s toy box”

  1. Marilyn Meredith Says:

    Dear Radine, you toy box sounds delightful and I can certainly see where each “toy” has helped you along the way.


  2. radine Says:

    Indeed! Replies on another list include the information that one writer’s toys are her iphone, kindle, and so on. I wondered if someone would mention tech equipment! Also, someone sent a photo of a wooden toy box her husband made. Isn’t this fun!

  3. Jackie King Says:

    I love the idea of a Toy Box for Writers. I’m going to have to give that more thought.

  4. Radine Trees Nehring Says:

    A toy box sounds good to me, too . . . better than “bag of tricks,” which I heard one writer comment on. Truth be told, I think a majority of writers are bringing out ideas, not tricks.

  5. Linda Apple Says:

    I have maps and reference books too! But my favorite toys are sticky notes, fun colored ink pens, colorful paper clips, those bright little sticky flags, folders, oh, and highlighters! Can’t forget those. I have CD’s to play to help set the mood for the scene I’m writing. My reference books and maps are highlighted, taped, flagged, and clipped.

    All in all, a work of art. 😉

    • radine Says:

      I knew this discussion would be both enlightening and fun, but possibly the prize goes to the guy (not a writer) who laments on facebook that his toys won’t fit into a toy box.

      Well yes . . . I know that bright red Posche convertible and a bag of golf clubs won’t! Shucks, I didn’t think of toys like that. I guess my mind is stuck in writing business mode. Is that a good thing?

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