Where Real and Fiction Meet

We do not remember days; we remember moments. ~Cesare Pavese, Italian poet and novelist

One common question every writer receives is, Where do you get your ideas?

Now, some writers shrug that inquiry off, but I believe the seeker really wants to know.

Ideas are everywhere. It’s finding one big enough to carry an entire book that can be tricky.

Same goes for poems or songs or paintings.

Perhaps what the questioner is really asking is, Where did the idea for this book come from?

Take my debut novel, Unplayable Lie, for instance.

An “unplayable lie” is a golf term for those times when your ball can’t be hit back into play. Maybe you’re behind a huge tree, stuck in its roots; maybe you’re smack dab in a clump of tall grasses or a decorative patch of rosebushes.

There are rules for addressing the situation, but I won’t go into them here.

Because what’s more central to my post is, Where did the idea for Unplayable Lie arise?

Years ago, when my son Domer was just a wee lad, we were golfing at one of our local public courses. We’d completed the first hole and were about to tee off to the south on No. 2.

As he took a few practice drives, I happened to glance to our left, where there was a wide expanse of dense trees, probably to delineate the golf course from the field lying to its east.

And suddenly, an idea took hold. What if a golfer hit a ball into those woods and found a Bad Guy lurking there, instead of just the ball?

The idea wouldn’t go away. It demanded to be written.

So I did.

What made me think of all this is something I read in our local newspaper recently.

The course that sparked my idea will be closing at the end of this year, a national trend brought about by fewer and fewer people playing golf.

It makes me sad that golf is undergoing a decline in interest. I hope it’s temporary, and the sport will have a quick resurgence.

It also makes me sad this particular course is closing. It was convenient for Domer to play a round there when he came home from college or work, and the fees were reasonable, too.

But I’ll always be grateful the idea and the golf course converged that day, and my book was born.

11 thoughts on “Where Real and Fiction Meet

  1. Very interesting. I think we all have those experiences of having an idea show up and demand to be developed. I have a few in my files that would make great posts, if only I could sit myself down and concentrate a bit! Ah, there’s the rub… (Speaking of which, how’s the second book coming?)

    Do you know what’s going to happen to the golf course? When a local one closed, it was turned into a wonderful space called Exploration Green. It will combine retention and detention ponds for flood control, hiking and biking trails, and so on. It’s a great use of the land, and far better than letting it fall into the hands of developers.

    • The golf course owners are trying to find a buyer, but I don’t know how much luck they’re having. Some years, we have many months to play outdoors; others (like 2019), not so much. I suppose it’s hard to sell a golf course in this part of the country for that very reason. I heard that another area golf course is becoming a hemp-growing facility of some sort, again, probably a sign of the times.

      Don’t even ask about my second book, Linda — I’ve written and rewritten the thing so many times, I’ve called a temporary halt to it. If I can’t get excited about it, I can’t expect readers to! It will come, but right now, it needs to percolate a bit. I’m convinced this is *my* fault for refusing to outline, ha!

  2. Debbie, thank you for sharing this because I found it extremely interesting to read how you got your inspiration for your first book! And not only that, but also about the golf term “unplayable lie.” My father loved golf and would often play. We belonged to a country club out in Torresdale, Pa, where we had access to a gorgeous golf course, swimming pool, and club house. Sometimes my father would take my brother and I golfing on the weekends, which I thoroughly enjoyed; especially driving the golf cart!

    “What if a golfer hit a ball into those woods and found a Bad Guy lurking there, instead of just the ball?”

    That is so cool! Isn’t it something how inspiration works? It seems to come in the blink of an eye, through moments that of often occur in our everyday lives.

    Thanks so much for sharing, my friend. Have a grrrreat Sunday!

    P.S. Sad to discover how golf is undergoing a decline in interest and that that particular course is closing. Hopefully that sport will make a comeback because it’s so ideal for both men and women of all ages.

    • What an idyllic childhood, Ron, growing up near a golf course! My folks played, too, when my sis and I were young, and we loved the golf carts. At the time, our country club didn’t have a pool or tennis courts (it does now), so golf and “fancy dining” were its chief attractions.

      I’m glad I could explain the term “unplayable lie” for you. There are so many golf terms, and those of us who don’t play professionally rarely need to know them all. Still, you’re right — it is a great sport for most any stage of life.

      Hope you had a lovely weekend — and will have a great workweek! xo

  3. Well that was interesting! And the title, Unplayable Lie, is interesting too, could go in more than one direction…I don’t play golf, so I haven’t noticed a reduction in playing…the gold courses near me always seem busy in the summer, but maybe I’m not paying attention. I used to date a golfing fanatic. He always said he was going to take me along some time so that I could see it wasn’t just an excuse to drink…but he never did, and he didn’t slow his drinking either and that was many years ago and I sometimes wonder if he’s even alive these days. But I digress. :)

    • Sadly, I think a lot of folks use golfing as an “excuse” to drink (probably the same thing holds for activities like fishing, bowling, and such!). I enjoyed golfing with my son years ago (he’s way more proficient than I am these days — because he practices!). Golf is one of those sports/activities that many people take up later in life because they can enjoy it for so long. I had a neighbor who was golfing nearly up to his death at 103!!

  4. I think my question would be – how do you take that initial spark and build a whole story round it? I quite often find myself thinking oh, someone could make a good story out of that, when I see something in the news or when I’m out and about, but then I can’t ever think of how it could be developed into a proper plot. I’m surprised golf is losing popularity – I wonder if it’s the same over here? Must check…

    • I’m hoping the drop in popularity is a temporary — and local — thing, FF. In my region, tennis did the same thing several years ago before undergoing a resurgence. I’d hate for a sport/activity that can be enjoyed by yourself (or with another) to give way to only team sports.

      I see what you mean about the ideas for stories. Lots of times, I see tidbits here or there that grab my attention, but what’s hard is holding that spark for the long haul. And I know very few writers who can turn out an entire book in a matter of weeks, ha!

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