When I started writing The Bear, I had a child’s voice in my head. I had the idea of two kids alone, but how these ideas might join was a blank spot. More than anything, I started writing from a feeling.
A few years ago, I became obsessed with the artist Chuck Close. Partly for his work, but almost more because of how he talks about his process.
Specifically things like this:
“If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightening to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”
I probably put more weight on inspiration that Close does, but the point is a good one. My computer feels like a tool for thinking.
So, I was writing my way into this blank spot when a bear came to mind, but how to make it work? I thought of the Coleman cooler that we used take on family car camping trips. It was medium sized and made out of plastic, no good.
That memory led to another Coleman cooler from summer camp that was much bigger and made out of metal.
I did a quick search to supplement my memory. The standard capacity of a cooler is about 40-60 quarts, but Coleman used to make (and still does) coolers that are 80-120 quarts. Now they are made of heavy plastic, but back in the day they were made of a sturdier metal. That was enough to go on. I kept writing.
If you’ve read The Bear, you know how important this memory became.
Note: I wrote more about my testing of Coleman in part 2 of this post.