Monday, October 14, 2013

Do You Know What I Know?

Just paraphrasing the well-known Christmas song - Do You See What I See?  One of the things a writer is repeatedly told - write what you know.

Now just exactly what does that mean?  What do I know?  I mean, that I can put into a magazine article or book or whatever?

Remember that jerk who cut you off at the intersection or parking lot in their race to get to that location of whatever?  Today I had the luxury of driving 70+ mph (speed limit was 70 - and I was definitely over it!) when I realized the semi-truck in front of me was not traveling at the same speed.  So, since it was a 4 lane highway, I moved to the left land to pass.  From out of nowhere a black car zoomed up to where I had just been mere seconds earlier and in the -- I kid you not -- about 22 feet of open space between the end of the semi and the front of my car - it zipped into the magical zone and then sped ahead.  My 2 sons were following me and when we arrived at our location, the first words out of their mouths were: Bet the f#@%! asshole in the black Lexus gave you a near heart attack.

To say my heart practically skipped a beat would be an understatement.  But, being the professional that I am, I did not slam on my brakes.  Well, actually, I didn't have time to even consider that option.  He broke speed limits and he almost broke a scientific law -- two body masses can't occupy the same space.

It was an experience.  That is something I can write about.

Last month I had to go in for some lab work - I had an EKG, a CT scan, an ultrasound and a fancy hemo-something scan.  I also had blood work drawn.  Now there is an experience.  I hate being jabbed and stuck with a needle.  It never fails, it takes 2 or 3 attempts and sometimes it takes more than 2 people to each have their try at the guy with no veins.  Again, something I can write about.

Ever watch a chick hatch out of an egg?  Or on an extremely boring day, sit and watch a bean seed sprout?

Or how about when you're sitting on the couch watching TV and you listen to the those infamous lines, all the while hoping some day to hear something different?  What am I talking about?

Game Host: Who is this beside you, Brad?
Brad: This is my beautiful, loving wife, Janice.
Game Host: Who is the person standing beside you, Janice?
Janice: This is the father of my 3 adorable children and the love of my life, my husband, Brad.

Really?  Wouldn't you just love, just once, to hear...

Game Hose: Who is this beside you, Brad?
Brad: Well, Tom, this is Janice, a dumb blond I thought I knocked up and married.
Game Host: Who is the person standing beside you, Janice?
Janice: This is Brad, a jerk who thinks those 3 delinquents I gave birth to are his.

Okay, sometimes stating the obvious is not a way to go in writing.  I have a very dear friend and she is great to be around but there are times I just have an extremely difficult time keeping my tongue about me.  An instance - we were traveling through a hilly area.  She noticed a mailbox along the road with a small gravel road disappearing down over the ravine.  Her words, honest to God. "Oh, look!  A mailbox. I bet somebody lives down there."  I so wanted to say, "No, Barb, they live about 3 blocks from the post office but like to get their mail delivered in the countryside."  I kept a civil tongue, more out of fear she might believe me.

Therefore, you can write about anything around you that is real.  Sharing it in a story will add a depth of realism.  Characters are more than just the leads in the tale, they must have a soul that makes them real for the reader.  By sharing what you know of the people around you - even a an unknown idiot in a Lexus - that can give the texture to your story to make the character come alive.

Until next I ramble on...


  1. This is an interesting article. I am testing to see if comments are working.

  2. It is definitely an interesting article Bob - totally agree with it. Share your story - you need to live before you can write.