Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Open it! Open it!

This was one of the best presents I ever received.

My daughter made it for me, when she was about eleven. It's a square of cloth, which she tied with a ribbon. Look what's inside:

As she explained to me:
"whenever you get stuck writing, you can reach into the Idea Bag and pull out something."

OK, now, beyond the fact that this is a wonderful, hand-made gift, I was bowled over by how she took my writing seriously. She knew what I did besides be her mom, and she gave me a fun, practical way to do my job better. How great is that?

Here's a list of what's in the Idea Bag. I'm not certain which of these things were in the original bag, because I've added to mine over the years. (Which is another great thing about this gift!)

a small red block
a sparkly butterfly hairclip
a pink jack
a sliver of green quartz
a psychedelic marble
a ribbon rose off a sweater
a flattened penny
a tiny figure of an astronaut with an American flag
a clay pretzel
a key
a shiny penny
a screw
a black bicycle
a rock with a cross painted on it
a pink foam hair roller
a ceramic owl
a dragonfly, made of twisted wire and rock
a black clay kitten
a pair of red plastic shoes
a multi-colored friendship bracelet
a translucent, ear-shaped rock
a button
a folded note on yellow, lined paper
a jade stone with the word MERCY on it
a handmade necklace with a hand-painted sun
a fat, red and white die (now showing the number 3)

Do you need an Idea Bag? I'm thinking that on those days when the Big Things are overwhelming, a few small things could help...


  1. This is so cool! Someone just gave me a Magic Box (a Glad plastic box) filled with much the same kind of thing to use while rehearsing endlessly. There are flashcards with emotions and all manner of fun and quirky things. I can't wait to begin using it.

  2. Love the idea bag! (Your daughter is brilliant.) Is there enough room in there for dreams and wishes, too?

  3. This reminds me of the fairytale – is it a Baba Yaga one? – where the heroine has three objects, I think a towel, a brush and a... comb? And has to throw them behind her as she is pursued by the villain, and they turn into lakes, forests etc in turn.

    For some reason I found that utterly compelling as a child. My mum then kept losing her combs.

  4. What a precious gift!
    (PS - I love that fairytale, and if you haven't read it, Sara, you should! The girl was running from a suitor and the combs turned into a mountain range or something... Very cool what you can do with small inventive things.)

  5. Ohmygosh! That is the coolest gift. Your daughter totally rocks!

    And guess what, just THIS MORNING, I read a scene from my new manuscript to my critique group that involved a pink foam hair roller.


  6. Sara - thanks for sharing your "ideas". They are very precious! You should use that in your children's lit.

  7. I remember reading this before -- that she did that for you. So very thoughtful.


  8. How neat is your daughter? Completely neat.

    I love this idea. In addition to my Poetry Pot filled with words/phrases that spark ideas, I could have something filled with actual, tangible objects. to hint to my own daughter that she should make it for me!

  9. Laura, I love your Poetry Pot. That's the only thing I could grow, too.

    And Nick and TadMack: Yes! I remember that Baba Yaga story. I loved it too, but I haven't thought of it in a long time. I may have to go find it now.

  10. Oh, how wonderful! Much better than getting ideas from bottles of nail polish!! ;)

  11. I think your daughter is brilliant!


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