Monday, 7 February 2011

Boot Sale

So there I was last week, following my map to check that I was on the right path for the walk I was doing for Country Walking magazine, when I came upon this sight.

As you can see, the locals are clearly 'barking' mad by trying to 'branch' out with this new idea. (Okay, I'll stop now.) But what a fantastic opportunity for a writer. Already I've submitted this to one of the women's magazines that pays for humorous pictures. It's also generated an article idea, and it's raised several questions, which could lead to more articles or short stories:

  • Who started it? Did someone throw an old pair of shoes up there for a laugh and then someone else thought of sticking up the sign and adding another pair of shoes?
  • I wonder if the person who started it pops back to count how many pairs the tree now has.
  • Does anybody swap shoes? If there were a pair of boots/shoes swinging in the tree that looked in better condition than those you were wearing, would you swap? (Assuming they were your size!)
  • What would you think if you passed a person walking down a country lane with a pair of socks on their feet, and then ten minutes later, came across this tree?
  • How many people have tried throwing a pair of shoes high in the sky, in an attempt to loop them over a branch, only to watch those shoes plummet back down to earth and hit them in the face?
  • If those shoes could tell stories about the people they once belonged to, what would they say?
And so it goes on.

One of my new students recently asked me where I get my ideas from. And as I tell everyone, ideas are everywhere, if you know where to look. The idea may not be obvious at first, which is why it is useful to ask questions. All it takes is five minutes and you could have dozens of ideas all waiting to be explored. And, of course, if that doesn't work, then do what I did and go out and find them.

The trick with ideas is not to think about what something means to you, but what it could mean to someone else (a potential reader). I'm tempted to say, try thinking with the boot on the other foot.

Good luck.


  1. Fantastic picture and what a wonderful tree to discover.

  2. Simon,

    You mean you have never heard of shoe tossing?

    We had a spate of it in Leicestershire several years ago,local media were reporting on it weekly!

    It went on for months, around the area, and there were many theories. Then, as if by magic, it all stopped as suddenly as it had begun.

  3. Shoe tossing! Aha! That Wikipedia link is really informative! See? There's another article idea there .... which just proves my point :-)

  4. Hilarious post, Simon! It brings to mind a quote by Sylvia Plath:

    "Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt".

  5. It takes a mad person to know a mad person, Simon! Great photo. I agree that one idea/photo can generate several pieces of work if you look hard enough at it.

    Julie xx

  6. I adore that Sylvia Plath very true!

  7. There are two telephone/electric wires near where I live complete with shoes. Do they use the ones they are wearing our do they take old ones out with them specially?

  8. Emma, when I looked at the boots in the tree some of the pairs looked quite new to me! But then, perhaps that's because my boots are quite old now and need replacing!

  9. Now the photo's appeared here will a magazine want a different one?

  10. Hi Baggy

    Interesting query, but it shouldn't be a problem because:

    a) if it is used in a magazine, then the rights used will be One Time Use Only for Serial Publication, and here on the Internet I've used my electronic rights.

    b) there's also the tiny matter that my small blog readership is totally eclipsed by the magazine's readership, so we're not really competing markets!

    c) - I'm a photographer, so yes I took several images anyway, so if they wanted a different one, I could certainly supply it!