As I sit enjoying my tea this morning I am pondering my intentions to write and how they always seem to get interrupted by other necessary chores and such. I am reminded that a writer’s life is not always about the actual act of writing. It includes all sorts of activities. Really, even when writing fantasy, not everything comes strictly from your imagination. Being a writer includes noticing and filing away bits of experiences from everything around you as you go about the mundane day-to-day tasks.
I’m thinking about this because, while I intended to spend some time writing this past week-end, I spent more time doing other things. But those other things feed the writing in ways that I didn’t notice before. For example, I was at the Home Depot yesterday returning a screen door and buying a different one. I noticed as I headed to the Returns desk with my large parcel, that a man walking up from the other side, saw me and quickened his pace to get in front of me. Aside from the fact that I am a middle-aged woman dragging along a huge screen door, the first thing I thought was that chivalry was, in fact, gone. There was a time in my lifetime that a gentleman would have offered to help me rather than rush to get in front of me. Ah, there’s character fodder for my files.
Later, while attempting to install the new screen door, my husband became ever more frustrated with each step. Nothing ever works out the way the directions say when installing the seemingly innocuous screen door! But my husband reacts with a monologue of the ridiculous, making me laugh while he stands straight-faced looking at the door as if he were about to crush it with a sledge-hammer. More character fodder, please.
As I head into this work week, I am also reminded that the jobs I have done are more fiction fodder. Characters need jobs, right? Maybe all those job descriptions I wrote over the years could be used for a greater good: my novel! We are so entrenched in our surroundings that they become familiar and insignificant. But taking a few moments to notice that person over there, or the birds gathered in the tree over here, could help you set up a scene or write a poem.
These experiences are just a couple of examples of the fuel that can be used for your fictional file. It seems I used to know this, but had “forgotten” it for a while. I think paying more attention to my surroundings while I am not writing may better inform my writing, Remembering the old adage, “write what you know,” takes on more meaning when you pay attention to the familiar and learn to use it in your writing world.
Finishing my tea and off to get ready for work. Have a great week!