You Should Write About That
When I started this journey, only a few people knew I had been dabbling at writing stories here and there—or had started and stopped a novel more times than I could count. I tried to hold off spreading the word (okay, I didn’t want to spread the word at all), but my over-excited sweet hubby would have none of it. (And one more reason why a pen name wouldn’t work.) Then mother. Then grandma, and the ball was rolling.
And the more people who found out that I enjoyed writing, the more bruised my ribs became.
Out to eat with friends and another patron’s kid throws spaghetti on top of his head? I’d get an elbow to the ribs with “you should write about that.”
Well, if it had been a grown man throwing spaghetti on top of his own head, now that’d be something to write about. Maybe.
Moving that 90-year-old grandmother from her farm of 60-plus years to a one-bedroom apartment? Another elbow to the ribs and “you should write about that” when we’d find something unusual—or unmentionable—in the clean-out.
But only if that ancient, two-ton Gateway computer monitor had gone all War Games and “Shall we play a game?” echoed through the old shed—but grandpa never wired the shed for electric. And the glowing green cursor blinked in sync with my pounding pulse, waiting for a response…
Hang on. Just a minute.
I had to stop the blog for a moment to file that idea under Sci-Fi. I’m back with you now.
On vacation with Amish friends for ten whole days? Multiple (very excited) elbows to the ribs and “you should write about that” or “Book Material!” when we were robbed, but we weren’t really robbed and I had to explain to two very confused young policemen—with the Amish ladies in tow—how we weren’t robbed, but we did call 911, but actually someone else was the victim. Because Amish ladies typically don’t know the difference between a silver Honda and a silver Volvo.
Okay. That one will end up in a book at some point… No need to pause the blog. Some events permanently engrave themselves in the recesses of memory.
Anyway, I suppose it’s no different from any occupational “hazard” when off the clock. The mechanic investigates the clunking in his friend’s Mustang, the police officer answers a dozen-and-one questions about the legalities of a neighbor’s firework collection, and the healthcare worker assesses the glands of every snot-nosed kid at her family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
Being a writer brings with it many elbows and people will always point out “book material.” Once in a while, they bring my attention to something I otherwise would have missed, and that’s cool. Or things that are significant to them, and I get to know them better for it. At any rate, I’m glad they’ve taken an interest in something that’s important to me. It shows they care.
The Mustang, the fireworks and snotty noses are all important to someone somewhere, but they aren’t equally important or noteworthy to everyone at all times.
So how do I sort it all out when faced with so many ideas from all directions? What makes something worthy of the page? Is it the wow factor? Is it the emotional tug? Is it the relatability of a thing?
For me, an idea or topic needs that burn-a-hole-in-the-back-of-your-brain factor. A phrase, an object, or an event buries itself in that back edge of my mind, and from there, creativity starts to play.
It plays and toys with characters, settings, dialog and the “what-ifs” constantly, even when I’m supposed to be concentrating on something else—like this blog. I don’t seem to have too much control over that creative bit: much like a two-year-old, it wants what it wants when it wants it—usually right now.
Some writers call it “The Muse” and name it after lovers, animals or even their mothers. Edgar Allen Poe had his cat, Catterina. Stephen King has his “Boys in the Basement.” I’m afraid to name mine or give it a “shape.” It may take over completely.
That creativity thing often dominates when I’m supposed to be concentrating in heavy traffic, answering mundane emails or paying bills.
Or when I’m supposed to be listening to doctor’s instructions on some complicated matter, but he has the most distinct accent and a mole in the shape of an alpaca on his cheekbone. Or is it a scar? Did he do that to himself or was it done to him? Maybe he’s the one speaking through the old computer in the shed…
Aaahh nuts. Hold on.
Just a minute…
Sorry about that.
In the end, if an idea burns a hole in the back of your brain, if you can see in your mind’s eye a myriad of wonderfully unexpected outcomes from a “what if,” if you just can’t let an image go, then maybe YOU should write about that.
Thank you for hanging out for a bit. Check back on the first Friday of every month for a free fictional short, and be sure to visit my Amazon page.