Occasionally, people ask me where my ideas come from and if I’m seeing a team of psychologists. The answer to the second question is easy. No, I’m not seeing anyone. I’m a free-range nut. And that allows me to continue to deliver my weekly dose of nonsense to the masses.
As for the first question, ideas come from all over. The idea for Trolley Dodgers (my first novel) came from an article I wrote in the 90s. The idea for the article came from a conversation I had with a math wizard who told me that if everyone in Monroe County, IN would chip in $20K, we could buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. So, I wrote a joke article about it (long before The Onion existed). That article got me interviewed on the radio and that led to the book.
The idea for my second book, Kansaska, came during a road trip from Indianapolis to Omaha. My friend Matt and I were talking about the semi-pro baseball leagues that existed from the 20s through the 50s in the Midwest. Then we wondered if the people who made the movies Waiting for Guffman or Best in Show did a documentary about that era. And that’s where the book idea was born. You’ll have to read it to find why third base is red.
For The Fungo Society, I was staying in a hotel in Phoenix and came down for breakfast. There were a half dozen old ball players holding court, talking about the good old days. I thought, why not have a group of old ball players causing mischief and solving a mystery with the backdrop of spring training? Then while watching an old episode of Lovejoy Mysteries, the idea for a baseball artifacts dealer was born.
As for the Roundabout Series, I started paying more attention to the goings on in my community. And those goings are funny if you pay close attention. And if you monitor the social media about your community, those goings become hilarious. (Note: I’ve now used “goings” in three—make that four—consecutive sentences.)
As for the weekly blog, I sometimes get a good idea and write it down during the week. Sometimes I stare at my screen because I forgot to write it down and I can’t remember what the idea was. Sometimes I spend hours looking for inspiration on the internet. I’ll suddenly come to and realize I’ve lost 45 minutes reading Wikipedia entries on Russian hats and the history of the spork.
Sometimes ideas come from friends and family. My wife wanted me to write about phrases that people hate and/or are overused. Lately, she’s been particularly bothered by the phrase “It didn’t disappoint.” For example, people will say, “I went to the Chew & Swallow restaurant for dinner with my friends. And let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint.”
Personally, I’ve grown tired of the phrase, “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but…” You see this posted on social media a lot. My rule is, if you don’t know who needs to hear it, you don’t need to say it. But that’s all I could think of related to phrases this morning, so I got more caffeine and waited for ideas.
And then the idea hit me to write about ideas. And that’s how we got to where we are now.
Carry on, Citizens!