Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, is an odd film. It's gentle and unassuming. It doesn't have car chases or explosions and no-one is abducted by aliens. Of course there's many films that fit this criteria. The thing with Field of Dreams, however, is it also has a bizarre plot.
With a Close Encounters-style determination, Costner throws his all into building his baseball diamond to the exasperation and derision of those around him. Of course, it all magically works out in the end. He built it, and they came.
I'm a huge fan of this film. It's not tense, nor hugely dramatic, but it does touch and move. And it has James Earl Jones.
But what is the relevance of this? Well. My wife bought me a journal for our wedding anniversary. Normally, I don't use a notepad. I'd either not have it with me when the lightning bolt of an idea strikes or actually owning one would seal up the vault of inspiration tighter than a duck's derriere. Having a notepad would almost be trying to force the ideas to come rather than letting them flow. It's sometimes easier to have an idea and forget it than to not have any because I'm trying to have one.
But this journal is different. I first saw one when we were in Windsor after going to Legoland. There was a small shop by the castle filled with such leather bound, intricately designed notebooks. The covers burst with trees, bindings, figures and more. At the time, I didn't buy one. They're not cheap and they can't be refilled so I talked myself out of the deal.
Every year, Cleethorpes, the seaside town adjoining my own town of Grimsby, has a parade. Floats, majorettes and dancing troupes take the journey through the streets filled with flag waving, smiling people. Near the leisure centre, which sits by the beach a fair way along the route, there's a small market. Stalls from Europe and closer to home sell everything from food to little trinkets.
This year, I saw one selling these particular books. I couldn't put them down. They seemed to cry out for me to fill them with my words. Surely, something like this would invite ideas and would lay them lovingly down so they'd rush to adorn the pages?
Still. I walked away.
Then, last month, my first wedding anniversary arrived. Now, I have to admit my wife knows me. Over the ten years or so we've known each other, we've gone from customer (she was - and still is - my hairdresser) to best friends to lovers to man and wife, and it's been a (sometimes hellish) rollercoaster. So she knows me. It's whilst being in a relationship with her that I finished Sin and went on to complete Dark Places, Zits'n'Bits and Rudolph Saves Christmas. She took me to Luxor in Egypt, because I'd wanted to go since being a child, and I wrote 15,000 words of Sin there.
So, I was delighted to open my gift and see one of these books. She knew how much I wanted one, even though I'd kept walking away. She felt that, even though it can't be refilled, it will still be a magical place full of my thoughts and ideas. And, she spent a great deal of time finding the perfect one.
If you look at the photo of the journal, and if you know the covers to Sin and Dark Places, you'll see why she hit the mark spot on dead centre.
So. Field of Dreams? Kevin Costner was told 'If you build it, they will come', and they did.
With my new journal, I was hoping if I wrote it, they, the ideas, would come. Last night my wife, my ten year old daughter and I were discussing story ideas. My daughter wanted me to write the story of Little Dead Riding Hood, so I was asking her to come up with other variations on fairytales. It was fun, in a weird kind of way (SINderella? Snow White and the HEADLESS Dwarves?).
I opened my journal, pen in hand, and started to write the titles down. I'd come back to the ideas later. Then, a thought struck me. An idea. Quickly I wrote it down on another page, expecting it to be just a single sentence to start me off when I got chance to expand on it.
Then I wrote a bit more. What might happen next. Then next. Then the fight. Then the cave. Then the darkness and voices.
I wrote it, and they came. My journal seems to be my own field of dreams. I can feel it calling out to me from my bedside table.
"Write in me."
"If you write it, they will come."
I have a feeling it's not wrong.