Throw away lines - Sarah Nicholson

 As writers we get inspired by all manner of things, an unfair incident we just need to write about to get it off our chest, a funny often self-deprecating story that is worth retelling to make our friends laugh or maybe a character we meet by chance and we decide to make up their backstory.

Then there are the throw away lines, words uttered in conversation that ignite a spark and start our minds whirring.

I’ve had two such instances this month that inspired some poetry.

The first was “third row back with chocolate” you can read about that on my own blog here.

The second was a conversation with friends I’ve known since sixth form. We were reminiscing about people we knew and one person wondered “whatever happened to Nigel?”

We don’t know.

As far as I’m aware he’s not on Facebook so how can we find out? Hiring a private investigator seems a little excessive.

We can only ponder and take a guess and write a poem. But I admit I still never came up with a proper answer!

Whatever Happened to Nigel?

Whatever happened to Nigel?

He had so many plans.

He dreamt of sailing round the world

In a boat made of tin cans.


He wanted to raise tigers

On the scrubland by the park,

Ride his bike, strung up with fairy lights

As it was getting dark


He craved a life full of adventure

You could never call him dull

He must live in some far-flung place

Perhaps the Isle of Mull?


And yet the other day

I thought I spied him on the train

Lank hair dripping wet

Caught out by the rain.


He looked so sad and lonely

Plans puddled at his feet.

“Are you Nigel?” I enquired

“What’s the chance that we should meet!”


I took him home and fed him soup

Tomato from a can

“Did you ever make a boat?

What happened to your plans?”

I toyed with giving him a career in astrophysics but couldn't get the words to rhyme and I like the ambiguity of the ending that perhaps he never filled his potential and his plans, whether foolish or real never quite came to fruition. Life so often takes an unexpected turn, but I hope he was just having a bad day rather than a full blown midlife crisis!

What throw away lines have inspired you to write, or given you a title to work with?

Or do you know Nigel? If so tell him we were asking after him and wish him well 😉


Umberto Tosi said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said…
Umberto - I love the phrase "my little writer's bell went off" It describes it so well. And I now what you mean about not always following through - too many ideas and too little time.
Thanks for commenting
Umberto Tosi said…

So true! Throwaway lines inspire me regularly. Unfortunately, I only follow through on a few of them. Sometimes it's just a mashup. I was describing my experiences with online dating to a friend a while back, when she said: "I guess you were the Flying Dutchman of the Internet." My little writer's bell went off. It let to my novella of the same title, included in my anthology "Sometimes Ridiculous."

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