Imagination and a duck

Coming up with ideas for stories can be tricky. They seem to take their time popping into one's head. They can't be hurried, they just go at their own pace. There's also the question of believability. Is this story idea believable? Is it strange enough for a reader to stick in their mind, draw them in, excite them? Or is the story idea too strange? Will the reader just dismiss it as ridiculous; 'that can't have happened'! The whole process can go very weird when you decide you'll have to write something that you know isn't correct because the real situation would be impossible for a reader to believe. Instead, you choose something that you know isn't true because it's more believable. You write a lie because it's the one that sounds true, while the bizarre actual events have to be put aside.


For example, a few years ago, my mum heard some strange noises from outside her front door. It sounded distinctly like quacking. She opened the door, stepped out into the street and looked around. There was no one there; there certainly weren't any ducks there. She heard the quacking again. This time, she realised, it was coming from somewhere close to her head. She looked up at the hanging basket she'd hung beside the front door. The quacking came again, from inside the basket. She went back in, got her step-ladder, came out and climbed up on it. This is what she saw:



There was a duck nesting in her hanging basket. She looked at the duck. The duck looked at my mum and quacked, looking quite relaxed and pleased with herself. Mum climbed down off the step-ladder, went back inside and left the duck to get on with her day.

Not long after, the duck's eggs hatched. There was now a duck and several ducklings sitting in a hanging basket right next to a busy road.



This is, quite patently, ridiculous. Why on earth would a duck nest in a hanging basket by a road that's on two bus routes! The nearest patch of grass is a hundred yards away! But she did.

Eventually, it was time for the ducklings to leave. They jumped off the hanging basket on to the street. Fortunately, mum and a helpful neighbour shepherded the duck and her ducklings to the river nearby, stopping all the traffic in the process.

Isn't life weird?