Shana Galen
Shana Galen


family, Shana Galen

I think it’s human nature to want to talk more about our successes than our defeats, but today I’m going to go against my instincts and tell you about some of my bad ideas.

I brainstorm a lot of ideas for books every year. Some are better than others. Some sound great to me but turn out to be huge time sucks because the ideas are bad.

Take my idea for a Holocaust love story. Makes you want to run out and buy it, right? But I promise you I want to write that book. It’s one of those ideas that sticks around in the back of my mind. I’ve always been intrigued by World War II and I used to teach eighth grade students about the Holocaust. It wasn’t a particularly romantic time, but I think it could make for a really great and poignant love story.

And yes, I know quite a few literary fiction novels have been set in that setting, but I want to write a Holocaust romance novel! Is that idea really so bad?

Okay, how about a French Revolution love story? I even wrote 200 pages of this book. The French Revolution is another of those bloody time periods that intrigues me but isn’t particularly intriguing to readers. I guess it’s something about the chopping off of heads. I couldn’t get an editor to buy it. Even when I rewrote it as a young adult novel, I couldn’t sell it. But I’m not giving up. Somewhere, sometime, someone is going to want that French Revolution romance.  You know where to find me.

I have bad ideas outside of my author life too. I recently acquired two stray kittens. That wasn’t such a good idea when I have a three-year-old, who thinks the poor cats are her dolls. But an even worse idea was trying to take the two cats and the three-year-old to the vet on Friday afternoon. Did I really think that would go well? Did I really think no one was going to get scratched or peed on or burst into tears? Babysitters are made for appointments like that one.

And those of you with kids know that it often takes a lot of trial and error before you stop succumbing to bad ideas with your kids. My windshield had a growing crack in it, and I knew I had to take it to be replaced. I made an appointment and stopped by with Baby Galen in tow. I don’t know why I believed the guy when he told me it would only take an hour. I don’t know why I thought a car repair shop was a good place to take a toddler. At lunchtime. Going into nap time. Surrounded by power tools and glass windshields. You get the picture. I was a wreck when we finally left.

 What about you? Have you had any particularly memorable bad ideas?


36 thoughts on “Bad Ideas

  1. I have had my share of bad ideas. I’m desperate to write about the French Revolution too, but I don’t have a historical voice so know that’s a no-go. Hugs on the car repair shop and a toddler, been there !

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Kathy, don’t mourn the French Revolution book. That period isn’t selling right now anyway.

  2. Shana, I have an impressive outline for a Potato Famine romance…so don’t feel bad. Personally, there was the yoga class. Balance, flexibility and I do not mix. Enough said.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Kristan, I feel a yoga blog coming…

  3. Sandi in OH says:

    It is never a good idea to take a child to any appointment including the child’s doctor appointments. Children get bored waiting for hours to see a doctor. We had to take our son from the time he was six months until he was an adult to a pediatric neurologist. It was painful for everyone.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      LOL, Sandi! If only a doctor could diagnose the child without actually seeing him or her.

  4. Mozette says:

    Yep… plenty… my most recent one is syncing my new iPod on my new computer and having everything wiped off it without looking at the online manual of Apple’s first…. gee why didn’t I look on there first? I think it was because Apple didn’t tell me to.

    And I lost all my music, all 4 pages on my iTouch4 and it went right back to the bare bones basics of the factory settings…. yep, it was the worst idea of mine ever this year! 👿

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Mozette, I know how completely frustrating and upsetting that must have been. I bet you’re hesitant to synch at all now.

      1. Mozette says:

        Jeez! Shana, I had to re-sync it to make the iTunes update stick…. it was the most nerve-racking 10 minutes of my life! But it now works – music and all!

        Now….. to get my Apps back from the Apple Store at Carindale and I’ll have my iPod back to what it happily was before. 🙂

        1. Shana Shana says:

          I’m so g;ad. I’m sure it was hours of hassle, Mozette.

  5. EmilyMcKay says:

    Oh, Shane, I *so* hear you on the vet/pet/kid thing. When my son was a young three (he’s now almost five), I brought both my kids (my daughter was five, maybe six), to the vet alone with my cat *and* my 120 pound dog. Worst. Idea. Ever. *Ever.*
    The cat pooped and peed in the carrier on the way. The smell was horrific. I think the dog was the best behaved of all of us, but he can still pull me to the ground if he tries. And as we walked out, I’m pretty sure that vet tech was on the phone with a urologist scheduling his vasectomy.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      LOL, Emily! At least the kittens are small enough for me to control. They were very good, considering.

  6. Mia Marlowe says:

    Oh, yeah, I’ve had a ton of bad ideas. One was a paranormal time travel series involving Viking elves in Tahiti. Somebody smack me!

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Wow, Viking elves in Tahiti. That’s pretty bad.

  7. I taught in a high school for pregnant teenagers. In 10th grade, we read The Diary of Anne Frank. The young women adored that. I imagine you could write something wonderful. Altho NOT set during the French Revolution, Les Miserable did fairly well.

    My bad ideas are not nearly as good as yours.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Jane, I think I could write something good, but no one would buy it to publish. 🙁

      1. Shanah says:

        Maybe not yet, but someday…and I just got some good advice that told me to focus on making an amazing book and then worry about the rest later. Maybe your story just needs to get out and then the publishing stuff will happen later I am cheering for you so much because I am currently in a very similar boat, well and I think you’re a neat person from what I have read so far. (hope that doesn’t seem creepy… possibly another of my bad ideas to admit things on a blog) Good Luck!

        1. Shana Shana says:

          Shanah, thank you! I think that was very sweet of you to say and not creepy at all. It’s nice to have people be supportive.

      2. Bet they would. What do you say, $10,000?

        1. Shana Shana says:

          Ha! I need you to be my editor, Jane.

  8. I also tried out a gourmet recipe on my hubby and son that involved lettuce wrapped fish…it didn’t go well.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Lettuce wrapped things work well for Pf Chang’s. I can see why you thought it would work.

  9. Shanah says:

    One of my many bad ideas was deciding to have an open door policy to my bedroom which also houses my office…alone time? Never heard of it! Writing time? What’s that? I can totally relate to the ongoing learning process of being a parent, and it was good to hear about from someone else.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Shanah, it is hard to close the door on your kids and family. I completely understand.

  10. Our bad ideas usually happened with vacations. Too many of them were unplanned. We drove 2,000 miles to Yellowstone and Glacier, drove to Maine, sometimes during holidays — with no reservations anywhere. A couple of times, we were still on the road looking for a decent motel at 10 pm. Quite a few adventures!

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Margo, you’re adventurous! I am a big planner.

  11. Ora says:

    I can’t think of one of myself right now, however there is one incident that no one in my family will let my oldest sister forget. She gave my oldest son two energy bars when he was a toddler. Her reason, he wanted it. He wound up running in circles for house then doing a belly flop on his little brother.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Ora, I bet your sister didn’t have kids at the time!

  12. catslady says:

    I think all those stories have wonderful potential!! A hint on the windshield – do you know they will come to your home and it doesn’t really cost any more money! When we had our first cat my youngest was 3 or 4 and somehow she got it into her head that the cat needed a bath but what she did was pour dish washing soap on her. She didn’t say anything and we didn’t know until the cat started getting lethargic and since we didn’t know how much the poor cat had licked, it was an emergency visit. The bad thing was the vet did not warn us that they had flooded her with liquids and we had accidents all over the house and she never did lose the habit when she got stressed! We ended up ripping one carpet out after another – all but one for some reason she didn’t like. I guess my eyes in the back of my head weren’t working that day lol.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Oh, poor kitty! Okay, I am keeping the bath rule. And I don’t care what it costs, from now on, the windshield people come to me.

  13. One of my worst ideas involved singing lessons. I can’t sing. Not at all. However, I thought if I learned how, I’d be able to. Not so. I took the class in college and had twice in the semester I had to get up in front of a group of music majors and sing. It was the most painful, humiliating experience of my life. Very bad idea.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Nancy, I majored in opera for a year in college, and I certainly had my bad days on the stage, so I can relate. But it takes a lot of guts to do that. Not everyone is brave enough to even try.

  14. Shana, your windshield visit reminded me of a similar excruciating one to a mechanic with a toddler and baby. Oy, like 3 hours in the most boring place on earth. It’s years later & I still remember it! I have so many bad ideas, often involving trying to cook overly ambitious things with guests arriving, like, Sure! I’ll try making homemade pasta, make the filling, and stuff the raviolis in an hour! And a homemade dessert! Finally started leaving myself notes on the calendar, reminding me how exhausting holidays are when I get ambitious.

    1. Shana Shana says:

      Emily, I need like a plaque on the wall to remind me of that. I also get too ambitious!

  15. RobynDeHart RobynDeHart says:

    I’ve had more than my fair share of bad ideas. I tend to have a bit of an “air head” in me. Once I was trying to make home-made stress balls for something work related. I got balloons and flour b/c the squeezable texture was great. I was working to fill the balloons and it just took forever and I couldn’t get them past a certain size. So I decide to blow the balloons up a bit, stretch them out and then put the flour in. Balloon + air + flour = big powedery mess. I felt like such a dumba$$. 😳

    1. Shana Shana says:

      I have to say I would never even think of making homemade stress balls, Robyn, so that’s something at least!

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