Joe’s Post #145
Taking the Blindfold Off
As writers, we live in our heads a lot. I think I may have said this once or twice. We often sit in dark rooms, alone, gulping cold coffee and creating worlds filled with all manner of characters or monsters or fluffy bunnies.
But every so often, writers are forced into the real world. Into the big city.
It’s a scary place. There’s light and the smell of hot dogs and lots of people. There’s the ear-splitting sound of jackhammers, gritty air that makes your eyelids feel like sandpaper and even more people … everywhere … in cars, on the sidewalk, in malls, wandering into traffic, or shouting at imaginary demons …
In such a chaotic environment, though, is writing gold.
If you’re willing to observe it.
I watched an old Chinese couple navigate the Skytrain with only nods to each other. An unspoken language that only they understood, but understood completely.
I sat a seat away from an Aboriginal man who bobbed with the rhythm of the train, reading his bible and mouthing the words to himself.
I laughed as three young men, not even 20, gave each other advice on how to attract women. Apparently the secret is the right cologne.
And that’s just from a Skytrain run.
In the real world, there are more details, more ideas for characters, and more character traits to be mined than being in a room by yourself.
A balding man with a ring of hair, all well-combed, well maintained, except for the very back which stood up as if he’d been electrocuted. But it was the one place he couldn’t see, or had no one else at home who’d tell him.
A woman changes out of her high heels to ride the Seabus, wearing simple flipflops with her expensive suit until the Seabus had landed on the other side.
A gruff construction worker complains to his friend about aspheticides that killed pests with a lethal combination containing lead and arse-ianic. Personally, I think he’d sniffed a bit too much of that arse-ianic.
But there’s so much to see. To smell. To hear, taste or touch.
Or to imagine.
Opening line – “22 people sat beside the dead man and before someone noticed the blood.”
Or – “When Rebecca arrived at the airport, she realized she’d forgotten three things: the book she’d almost finished reading, her lucky jogging socks and her boyfriend. Well, she would miss two of those things.”
I honestly wished I’d brought a pen and paper to make notes, but I was on a different mission. Fun with the family. So I didn’t record all that I should have recorded, but the whole adventure did remind me that, to be good writer, you can’t just sit in the dark and make shit up.
Unless you’re Stephen King.