Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday's Words for July 8, 2009

The first complete story I ever wrote was an episode for my favourite television show—when I was ten years old. This was long before the word “fanfic” made it into anybody’s lexicon. I don’t recall the details of that first literary effort, but the show was “Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea”. The other thing I remember about that incident more than four decades ago was that I showed my creation to my sister. She was a worldly sixteen at the time, educated enough to point out—with great gales of laughter—that I had spelled the word, ‘camouflage’, incorrectly.

She asked me recently whether or not I’d finally gotten over that incident. I lied and told her I had.

We writers are strange and curious creatures. I think, seriously, that we have to be in order to do what we do. We have to have a different view of the world than does the electrician or the doctor or the teacher.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot just lately as I attended a pig roast a week or so ago and met some people who were amazed that I was an author. Now I don’t think their amazement was based on me, personally—as in, “wow, you can write?” It was more that they’d never encountered a writing creature before and they were in awe. “I can’t string two words together,” one woman confided.

The most common question I get asked, usually after people find out I’ve had 12 titles released since March of 2007, is “where do you get your ideas?”, and this question was asked of me at the party.

This is where the part about writers being strange creatures comes in. I get my ideas from everywhere, and anywhere. I really do believe that we who write look at the same things as non-writers but how our minds processe the data is completely different.

A non-writer might look at an outdoor gathering of friends for an afternoon of fellowship and food and see a group of people chatting, having fun. They might notice the clothes some people are wearing, or how many smokers there are, or whether people are holding bottles of beer, or cans. They might notice if someone’s voice carries somewhat more significantly than everyone else’s.

A writer may look at the exact same gathering and think: “She remembered the party, the day. Nothing extraordinary happened. Yet if what police Detective Summers was telling her proved true, already three people who attended that celebration had been murdered. She scoured her memory of the event. Had something happened? Something unsavoury in the shadows? Or was the connection between these murders something entirely different...”

Oh, and it doesn’t have to be a function as elaborate as a pig roast where this kind of mental side-trip takes place, either. It can happen while at a stop light, as the eyes wander to the sidewalk, to the unique and individual people who may be meeting, conversing, or maybe doing something more...

Writers’ minds are wired differently. That’s all there is to it. In fact, likely the fact that we are writers saves us from undue scrutiny by family and friends, from secretly arranged interviews with doctors and psychiatrists, from well meaning plots to have us “settled” someplace where society will be safe from us, and we from it.

Come to think of it, that last describes my office to a T.


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