The other day I crossed paths with someone and in the ensuing conversation asked them to tell me the funniest story from their career. After a minute or so of hemming and hawing, they didn’t have one. The closest thing to a funny story was an anecdote about being nervous.
That got me thinking about the writing process and how much authors need to be observant.
I understand it’s not the key to most professions, but for me, having stories to tell and being on the lookout for new inspirations is second nature.
Ask me for a funny story and my reply would probably be, ‘what time period?’
I could tell you about how in middle school I didn’t have the nerve to tell a girl I thought she was cute. So, I tied her shoelaces to her chair … with thirty-seven knots. Flirting was weird in middle school.
Or the time my daughter told an inappropriate joke and I got in trouble for laughing.
Or the time l fell asleep with my legs elevated after an especially brutal soccer game and woke up unable to feel anything from the waist down.
Ask me for my scariest moment and I would tell you it’s a toss-up between being caught in the riptide at Sandy Beach with my dad and a boogie board or the time in high school I decided to throw a party because my parents were out of town. True fear is my parents picking me up from soccer practice when they should have been hours away on a weekend getaway.
Sad moments, awkward moments, overwhelmed moments … we all have them. Why then do some people have such a hard time bringing them up?
Well, I can’t claim to have a perfect memory, but I recall perfect snapshots of feeling. When I write, I can always bring up something relatable. I can channel what I know into my character. This may not be a perfect fit, as there are many experiences in life I haven’t had the pleasure or misfortune to have come across. Fortunately, there is no requirement in writing that demands you experience everything you write about.
Anyone who says an author has no right to write about something, is missing the point of writing.
I digress. Writing is about observing. Writing is about empathy. Writing is about capturing a moment and a feeling.
On that note, keep on reading, keep on taking pictures, and keep on flying the Black.