Sometimes story ideas just fall into your lap. While on a recent vacation to Door County, Wisconsin, I chatted with a grandfather of two while my two swam in the pool. The topic of discussion–why, (grand)kids, of course! This man–whose name I never got, shared that his oldest grandchild was adopted from China. I listened as he dove into the story–his son and daughter-in-law had been unable to conceive. They were both eager for children. They looked into adoption and fell in love with a young Chinese girl–9 years old.
The family wrote letters back and forth to the girl, and finally–after about a year–the adoption was final. Can you imagine bringing home a 10-year old who had spent most of her life in a Chinese orphanage? According to the grandfather, this little girl was found at 5 days old in a middle-class Chinese marketplace. For a short time, she was in a foster home when she was about three years old. Otherwise, her entire existance was spent in an institution.
Being me, I couldn’t let this story rest. It kept running through my head, my fingers itching to get to the keyboard. Here’s what I pounded out:
“It was no easy decision to leave Lili Chin nestled between crates of bok choy and water chestnuts in the midst of a busy marketplace. Her mother, ___ lowered the child’s basket and kissed the top of her tiny head, the black fuzz soft and wispy. In her native tongue, she whispered, ‘be good child.’
She left no note, no instructions for the person who would find the daughter given away in a society for which boys were the preferred sex; a society where a one-child-only-rule prevailed. At five days of age, Lili lay innocent, helpless, and homeless.”
What might this become? A short story? A novel? Just this blog? I don’t know…but I will file it away for a rainy day when I need a starting point. Just goes to prove that if you listen, and you’re active in your life, story ideas will just fall into your lap.