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One Thing Leads To Another

September 24th, 2021

Whilst casting around for inspiration, the phrase ‘Everyone has a book in them’ popped into my head. Ah, I thought, that’s just what I need; a bit of positive encouragement; come on, you can do this! Start writing!

But nothing happened. My blank mind stared at an equally blank computer screen. I sat for a while, waiting for ideas – even one idea – to materialise, but the muse was clearly on holiday. I went outside and fed the birds, hung out some washing, made a cup of tea and sat down again at the computer.

Nothing happened.

But ‘Everyone has a book in them’ my brain protested! Who would say such a thing if it weren’t true?

I took a sip of tea and decided on a little research and, much to my amusement, I discovered that far from being a positive phrase of encouragement, the full saying read ‘Everyone has a book in them, and that, in most cases, is where it should stay.’ This was not turning out as I’d expected. Far from being positively encouraged to get on and write, I was being knocked down and told not to!

However, the article was interesting, and more reading revealed the saying had appeared in various guises throughout literature, being attributed most recently to Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), but also evident in Somerset Maugham’s 1938 memoirs, and with the idea possibly originating from an essay written in 1910 by Karl Kraus (1874-1936).

A link at the bottom of the article directed me to an investigation of another well-known saying, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword,’ which in turn led to five fascinating facts about Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the man who wrote the worst beginning to a novel ever.

By now, my tea was cold and I still hadn’t written a thing, not even a beginning worse than Bulwer-Lytton’s.

I pondered how to begin, how to start this book that was so clearly within me, but a blackbird digging for grubs caught my attention and any thread I had was lost. The word ‘thread’ reminded me of a story, something about a Minotaur and a cave. More research needed, which delivered a summary of the story of how Theseus killed the Minotaur and escaped from its labyrinthine lair by means of a ball of string secretly given to him by Ariadne, the King of Crete’s daughter.

It was now lunchtime, and not one word had been committed to virtual paper. However, I had done something positive: I’d given myself space to let my mind wander, and it was then that ideas began to spark. With my imagination fired up, I was able to begin writing, and I am currently working on my first novel.

So give yourself permission to ‘research’ a thought or check an idea. You never know where it will lead.


Anne Lawson lives ‘up north’ and loves hilly landscapes and rugged language dotted with humour. The successful fledging of her youngest son has allowed more time for research and writing, with fewer feelings of guilt. She is a founder member of Phoenix Writers, Horwich, and has won a few prizes sparingly sprinkled over several years for flash fiction, short stories and humorous poetry. She is currently working on her first novel and enjoying the thrill of being in talks with her great-great grandmother’s family and a nineteenth century murderer.


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