I’ve been sitting on this baby since May. Out of the blue, as seems to be the way with most of my ideas for new stories, a set of characters presented themselves to me as I was waiting for a plane.
Conception of latest idea
Now, I’ve heard of the five mile high club and often thought what an uncomfortable proposition that would be on the kind of budget airlines servicing our local airports. Toilet spaces are minimal to say the least. And if a child was somehow conceived during such a short hop at 36,000 feet, would it have to be called Sky or Cloud or Cramp?
So, writer in Languedoc, what were you doing in Montpellier airport when Béziers is closer to home?
I have a good choice of airports. This map doesn’t show all of them. To the west of Béziers, I also have Carcassonne, Perpignan and, at a desperate push, Toulouse at my disposal. It all depends on where I’m going.
Last May, I was going to Leeds/Bradford airport, back to my home county for a much longed-for family visit. You can’t fly to Leeds from Béziers, not yet anyway, so Montpellier was the next best choice for my journey.
I like the Leeds/Bradford flights. They’re full of people who sound like me. It does me so much good to hear a nay, lass spoken with feeling. I love those old Yorkshire sayings such as you make a better door than a window, when somebody’s blocking your view. Tha can allus tell a Yorkshireman, but you can’t tell ‘im much and when somebody’s left the door open, were you born in a barn?
Eee, lass, you can’t beat ’em. So, last May while I was waiting in Airport Departures, I noticed a little French girl with her Yorkshire father. Dad’s French came with very pronounced Yorkshire vowel sounds. We never lose them and, anyway, why would we want to? Mademoiselle’s French, on the other hand, was perfect. However, when she spoke in English, she spoke it like her father with his pronunciation. Mother was conspicuous by her absence.
I was fascinated. Out came my notebook.
Regular readers of my Random Thoughts blog will know I always carry my notebook and camera with me. I do a lot of people watching, and listening. You never know what you’re going to find that might be the inspiration for a new idea. This time, I didn’t need a photograph. It would have been too intrusive and you can get into a lot of trouble taking photographs of other people’s children. Fortunately for me the pair of them made such an impression on me the words flowed so fast my wrist ached.
Nobody could see what I was writing. Nobody would have been able to work out I was making detailed notes about this handsome father and his little French daughter. Before we boarded the plane, I had an outline.
But no ending.
This is unusual for me.
I always know what the ending is going to be before I begin to write in detail.
And that’s why I’d been sitting on the baby since May.
Ideas mulled in and mulled out again. I wasn’t satisfied with any of them. But, I make it a rule NOT to beat myself up about tricksy stories that won’t end themselves. I leave them alone. If it isn’t happening there’s a good reason for that. So, I wait. Something will happen. There’s always something else I can write instead.
This morning, I submitted the finished story. I hope the editor enjoys it. I hope the editor decides to pay me for it.
And if she does, and it goes into that very popular Fiction Special, I owe a plane load of thanks to the little Mademoiselle and her father on that flight to Leeds/Bradford last May.
I wonder if they would recognise themselves? I can’t tell you any more about the ending. That would be a spoiler.
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Edit: 5th September. Airport Departures sold today. Look out for it in Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special