I drove a winding rural road along a remote river and passed abandoned homes, RVs, boats and pastures gone to seed. I hadn’t seen another vehicle for miles in both directions on a weekday morning.
Then I saw a person walking toward me in the narrow gravel shoulder. Perhaps walking is the wrong word. Sashaying is better. I slowed down and veered a bit toward the middle stripe. It was a woman with long blonde curly hair. She wore a green skirt, orange blouse, yellow rubber boots and was carrying a white bucket full of red apples. It was an astonishing array of colors and seared itself instantly into my mind. There was a novel in this woman of color walking a rural road while carrying apples. Was she homeless? Had she gathered windfall for cider or applejack? Pies for the Elks Club fundraiser? How far did she have to walk? There was no possible way she could be there, but there she was, and as I passed, I noticed she was smiling and singing. The journalist in me wanted to know the tune. The novelist in me would make it something sung by Al Green.
I begin writing the novel in my head right then and there. It was finished by the time I reached the sea.