In the summer of 2004, two friends and I backpacked Europe for ten weeks on a shoestring budget. Knowing this opportunity wouldn’t come again, I carried my camera with me everywhere. I burned through dozens of rolls of film. In fact, I only remember going out once without a camera. I remember it well because it haunts me.

We were staying at a cottage near Chamonix, France. Early one evening, as the light was beginning to falter, I began walking from the cottage to a pay phone a mile or so up the road. The day had mostly been rainy, but the sun had broken through and the clouds were beginning to dissipate. As I looked up at the mountains, a rainbow was reaching from one peak to another through the backlit, dusky mountains. It’s the greatest photograph I never took.

I hadn’t put myself in a position to take advantage of that opportunity as it presented itself. Likewise, if we don’t write book ideas down as they come it us, we risk losing the ideas altogether.

Write book ideas down or risk losing them

Last week, I had a dream in which I was writing a book that was a spy/private investigator thriller. In the dream I had written most of the book, I recall that I knew the entire plot. I woke up from the dream in the middle of the night, and I thought, “That’s a really good idea. I need to write that down … I’ll just write it down in the morning.” Then I rolled over onto my belly and went back to sleep.

By the time morning arrived a few short hours later. The details of the dreamed up book idea had left. In fact, I can remember nothing more specific than what I wrote above. Nothing has ever come back to me.

It’s unlikely that the book idea was as great as I thought in my sleepy state. But I’ll never know, it seems. Just like the photograph I didn’t take in Chamonix, this one’s going to haunt me for a while. If I’d just taken a minute to write my book idea down and make some notes on my phone, the tenor of this post could have been different. I may instead have been telling you about a great, new idea I’m working on.


Photo by Pimthida.