AKA Juror #169
I have to tell you about the experience I had last week. I got called for jury duty for April 30th. To begin with, I kind of hoped it would get cancelled.
It didn’t, so I showed up about 30 minutes early in order to make it through the security check point. As with most jury duty pools, the first half hour to an hour is spent going over the rules and culling out the people who didn’t call or mail their cards back in advance with their exceptions.
They separated the people left into three groups. Two of the groups went to the other courtrooms in the newer 1967 courthouse building and my group stayed in the renovated 1892 courthouse. Yes! Forgive me in advance to those I’ve already told about this, but I had to post about it.
I decided to take a spiral notebook with me and get a little writing done. Did about 200 words before the session ever started. Then another 460 or so during lunch and the second “comfort” break. Why comfort breaks? Because we’re sitting on replicated and original late 19th century wooden benches. They actually weren’t that bad considering.
Anyway, I start looking around at the crown molding and layout of the courtroom. My hubby will tell you, I do this in every new town we visit. We have more vacation photos of old buildings than probably anything else. So, I’m sitting there looking around and an idea starts forming. I decide to ask one of the court officers if I can take pictures of the crown molding. I told him I was a writer and that it would help with a story.
He checked with the judge and told me I could take all the pictures I wanted as long as no jury sat in the room. No problem!! We come back, our seating order gets rearranged and the attorneys start going through the voir dire process. I didn’t get picked for the jury – though I actually wanted to – and I went back to work the next day.
Here’s where the inspiration comes in. Writing has become such a driving force lately that inspiration hits from sometimes the most unexpected places. As I sat listening to the attorneys questioning the prospective jurors, I kept looking around trying to imagine other uses for the building. I did have a really good idea, but I’m not sure yet how to make it into a romance novel. And it may end up not even being a romance. The bud of a story is there though.
I found it in the hand-hewn crown molding around the half-moon windows. I found it in the original wood flooring and benches lining the upstairs gallery. I found it in the secretary (desk) that sat off to the side with dozens of cubbies waiting to be filled with papers. I found it in the stair case leading down to the judges chambers and connection to the jail one block over. I found it in the short conversation about the history of the building I had with the presiding judge at the end of the day.
All I know is not only did I learn something new about my town and its history, I worked past the block in my current edit and had an idea that could be worked into a future story. I had to call my best friend on the way home and she said I sounded all giddy, like a kid in a candy store. And that’s how I felt. Amazingly, my jury summons ended up turning into a really good day. I was on a high and around midnight, I finally fell asleep.
Inspiration is everywhere. Just gotta know when to let it in.
What have been some of your unexpected sources of inspiration?