This morning as I sipped my coffee and listened to WQXR, our city’s public radio station for classical music, Jeff Spurgeon—the knowledgeable and delightful morning host of the program—was about to play one of George Gershwin’s most famous songs I Got Rhythm. Spurgeon mentioned that Gershwin was inspired by a musician he heard warming up by practicing several notes on his trumpet.
Seeds of future writings often take root in authors, when we become fascinated by bits of dialogue overheard in a restaurant, shop or train, the look on a person’s face, a memory of something that happened to ourselves, a friend, relative or acquaintance, a walk on the hard concrete of the city’s streets or a landscape that in our mind defines a foreign country. Weeks, months, years later the bits and lines we jot down in a notebook or on a scrap of paper and throw in a drawer—our warm-up—becomes a cast of characters—people with needs, desires, opportunities and thwarted hopes. The landscape may be the backdrop or part of the action. We begin a short story, a play or a novel with the scraps that have grown, been transformed, and conjured into something new, something different, a tale we want and need to tell.