Observing how the mind works is fascinating. After my experience this spring with a mother quail abandoning her babies, I kept thinking of those adorable baby chicks and how brave they were, even though they must have been really scared. Then I realized this could be a wonderful tale for children.

Once that thought entered my mind, each day brought new ideas. I called my photographer friend, Jane McCutchen.

"Do you have any photos of baby quail?" I asked.

"Why? What's up?" she asked.

"I want to write a book for young children about a quail family. Instead of hiring an illustrator, I'd rather have photos of actual birds. What do you think?"

A few days later Jane called, very excited. Her mind had been working overtime.

"I bought a block of seed and the quail are coming to my yard in abundance. I'm getting some great shots."

"Fabulous," I said. "I'll start the book today."

As one thought led to another, our book was born.

"The Adventure of John Quincy Quail" is designed for young children, especially those learning to read. A young child with some reading ability could read it to a younger sibling.

What I find most intriguing about the project, though, is how minds work. First you get an idea. Each day the idea gets bigger with more options. And eventually a decision is made and a project is begun.

Watching this happen to my writing students is very exciting. Some of them arrive not sure what they want to write. Every time we meet I see the steps they've taken to pursue their writing. Each of them builds one idea upon another until a clear path appears, enabling them to proceed toward the ultimate goal of publication. Seeing their minds tackle one obstacle after another is exhilarating.

Scientists say we haven't begun to understand how complex our minds are. When I think of how far we've come in my lifetime, I am astounded. Who could have imagined going to the moon? Or sending a small vehicle to Mars to check out the planet?

Recently, Charlie Rose interviewed a man who creates human-looking robots. They had one with them, and he looked pretty mortal.

Remember the Disney cartoons of years ago? They seem ancient by comparison to what filmmakers accomplish today.

The common denominator is that each of these accomplishments started with a single idea.

Not too long ago, the only way to read a book was to buy it or get it at the library. Now we can upload books on our phones. At an airport recently, I was one of 10 people who didn't have a tablet or laptop with me. Sitting there with my paperback, I felt out of touch with the times.

Harnessing our mental capacity into something creative is joyful. Don't be hesitant about writing, taking an art class or indulging in ballroom dancing. Life is to be lived, and our minds exist to fulfill our dreams.

On StarNet: Read recent columns by Alexis Powers at azstarnet.com/alexispowers

Email Alexis Powers at northwest@azstarnet.com or visit her web page, www.alexispowers.net