Imagine being given a dime and told to write a story about it. Any kind of story, be it a study, an article, a fantasy, horror, science fiction... anything. It just has to be about that dime. Not any dime, that particular dime. It can be any length, from a single paragraph to a short story. 90% of your grade depends on it. Oh, by the way, there are no grades.
This is an exercise in focus. Oftentimes while working on a story I will find myself stuck, lost in the worries of my "day job", or getting my bills paid and addressed, or what I can find to eat, or the barking dog across the street, or even which direction to take the project before me. I can't focus on the story because I have too many intrusions on my thoughts. Things that seem important, but really are only showing up at that time to stop me from doing what I sat down at my keyboard to do. Write. My car lurched to a halt in the dusty lot of an ancient and dilapidated filling station. The rear tire had blown out five miles earlier, and of course I had no spare, having used it on the other rear tire just two days ago. The tire was now gone, leaving a bent and battered steel rim. Yeah, I wasn't going any further on that.
The station was of course, closed, being the only landmark on a long, lonely stretch of road crossing the great plains of Kansas. The pumps were rusted and appeared broken, and the windows of the building were dusted over from long neglect. Fortunately, there was a payphone booth standing just outside the station. I opened my door and stepped out into freezing wind.
Hurrying toward the station with my jacket whipping about my shoulders, I stepped into the phone booth and uttered a short prayer. Please work. I lifted the receiver and heard only a soft ticking sound before I noticed the sticker on the phone: Insert 10 cents for dial tone. I dug in my pockets, producing several credit receipts and one dime.
Stuffing the receipts back in my pocket I paused, turning the dime over in the palm of my hand. The raised ridge around the outside edge was scarred, grooves cut into the metal and scraped across the surface, giving the image of Roosevelt a worried frown and a slashed eye. The scars tapered off just above the date, 1988. That was the year I'd graduated high school, and wrecked my Chevy Impala in a race up Twin Pines wash. The scars I'd received were far too similar to those of the dime. I pressed my hand closed over the coin for a moment. This dime was my twin, an echo from a painful past, but would now be my savior.
Closing my eyes I breathed a sigh filled with memories. I opened my hand to deposit the coin, but it was gone! It had stuck to the side of my finger and was now coming loose. Slipping from my grasp it caught briefly in my shirt tail, then bounced off my knee to the floor of the booth where it rolled in a quick circle, then disappeared through a small grate.
That is what something as simple as a dime can do. Spark the imagination. Now that my creative juices are flowing again I can continue my project.
It doesn't have to be a dime. You can use anything you like, a safety pin, a small box of doodads, a rock. Simple is good, unique is better. Look at your item and think, 'I wonder where this has been before', then write about it. Call it your fire starter.
Some time ago I was playing around with one of those free website builders, just to see how it worked. After choosing a scheme and drag-n-dropping a picture or two, I needed to add some content. Hmm, what to add? Clutter tends to grow on my desk like weeds after a Spring rain, and among that pile of dusty notes, cables, clips (and a squeeze ball), my eye happened upon a lone dime.
Hey, there you go, why not write about a dime?
Well, I didn't keep that free site since it was so much cookie-cutter (and wow do they like up-selling), but I did keep my dime tale. So hey, what better to serve as my inaugural post?