Written by Kay Springsteen
“When a spunky Wall Street secretary's business idea is stolen by her boss, she seizes an opportunity to steal it back by pretending she is her boss.” Are you old enough to remember this movie? It’s Working Girl from 1988, starring Harrison Ford as Jack Trainer, Sigourney Weaver as Katharine Parker, and Melanie Griffith as Tess McGill.
For those who don’t recall or who may never have seen it (you’re missing out!), Tess is a secretary trying to make it in a man’s world. Her latest boss steals an idea of hers and Tess decides to take action. In the end, she proves the idea was originally hers by showing how she came up with it.
Jack: Hear the lady out, sir. There's another elevator.
Jack (to Tess): You're on.
Tess (sets down her box of belongings and pulls out a file, rifles through it and pulls out newspaper clippings): Okay. See, this is Forbes. It's just your basic article about how you were looking to expand into broadcasting, right? Okay now, the same day, I'll never forget this. I'm reading page six of the Post, and there's this item on Bobby Stein, the radio talk show guy who does all those gross jokes about
Ethiopia and the . Well, anyway, he's hosting this charity auction that night...real blue bloods, and won't that be funny? Now turn the page to Suzy, who does the society stuff, and there's this picture of your daughter. Betty Ford Center
Trask (looking at the clippings and nodding): Ah.
Tess: See, nice picture. And she's helping to organize the charity ball. So I started to think, "Trask, radio...Trask, radio." And then I hooked up with Jack, and he came on board with Metro, and...and so now here we are. (1)
The way stories come to me is perhaps a bit unusual. I don’t get snatches of the story or a scene here and there that I can build on and see where it leads. When inspiration hits, it is most often sudden and the skeleton of an entire story just pops into my head, leaving me with only the need to flesh out the characters and develop the muscle of the story. But here’s where it actually gets tricky. The inspiration will hit me much the same way it hit Tess McGill in Working Girl. Pieces of a puzzle begin to connect themselves in my brain. Perhaps a song, or a story in the news will plug itself in, and then if I just sit still, the rest of the pieces fall into place from start to finish. Songs ease their way into my consciousness, memories of events or people I took note of while out in public arrange themselves into the character lineup. Pictures and scenes splash across my mind and build upon one another.
For example, in Lifeline Echoes, it was a song as I listened to my MP3 player set on random one night after work. Garth Brooks voice came on singing “When You Come Back to Me Again,” which is the theme from the movie Frequency. For whatever reason, the words just started forming pictures in my mind, but NOT the pictures from the movie. All new scenes about people who never meet in person…and the concept of a voice lifeline and falling in love knowing it can never be a fulfilled love was born. I mulled the story over for perhaps two or three days, and those bits and pieces floated upward from the filing cabinet of my mind and I knew I was going to tell an emotional tale of love and loss and love again. As I wrote the story, I knew exactly where it was heading from beginning to end and how it was going to get there. All that was left to do was add the bells and whistles.
Other stories had similar beginnings. With Heartsight, it was the story of a blind soldier in the news. With Operation: Christmas Hearts, my daughter (a U.S. Marine wife) mentioned how hard families find being apart during holidays. Heartsent came about when my daughter-in-law mentioned a story about surrogate mothers.
At the end of the day, I have far more completed stories in my head than I can ever hope to get onto my computer. Why? Because the skeleton of the story is not the complete story and it still takes time to gather my thoughts enough to form understandable and cohesive sentences in a logical order that makes sense to those who will read it. I joke often that I am in search of a direct connection between brain and computer so when inspiration hits I can simply think the story and it will type itself. Until then…I’d better get back to it and let some of these clamoring people out.
Astraea Press, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
(1) From Working Girl, 1988, 20th Century Fox