I was going to simply tweet what I witnessed this morning, but then it reminded me of the first conversation Holden Sheppard and I had on the pod recording that got lost due to technical errors, and the damn internet.
As a writer, I see stories everywhere. Most don’t get written down. Once upon a time at Uni I feverishly wrote down things in notebooks. I had one in my bag at all times, one at my desk, and one beside my bed if I woke up during the night and an idea struck me in the small hours. Even if I heard an interesting conversation.
This was in a time before I began writing my prison memoir during my Bachelor of Creative Writing as I was working out what type of writer I wanted to be. Having said that, once I began my memoir and I reflected on other portions of my life, I realised I have many stories of my own to tell. I do still keep notes.. *whispers* especially on some of you lot..
If you are a newbie writer and reading this, and or, are one of those who lament greatly that you can’t find a story? The simple answer is this – people. Just watch people. Go outside, to a shopping centre, into the city, any public place, spend all day on a train back and forth, or sit outside your own home, watch your neighbours from a window, and so forth.
Many things happen outside your four walls… that’s if you have four walls? So maybe stick your head out of your tent, cave or hovel and get outside and watch life. Then write down what you see.
It can be anything, but people watching is one of the best ways to find a story. People are very animated both physically and audibly. Also! A great source for description building because people come in all shapes and sizes.
People have odd behaviours and quirks, too. You don’t have to hold a degree in psychology to know this. What you find personally odd in someone maybe normal to them, so in turn, as a writer you have to work out why you find it odd and dig deeper. Even ask them! This is how you build character as well as description.
As a writer you need to be an investigator and a researcher. Don’t sit there trying to figure things out on your own, simply ask. This is how you also find your ‘authentic’ voice. If you haven’t done any of the prior with your work? It will show. Trust me, I can tell within a paragraph if the voice is right.
Okay! The point to this is what I witnessed this morning while I was chowing down on my bowl of porridge and madly stuffing handfuls of blueberries in my mouth. Everyone does that right? Like? Just jamming a handful of blueberries into your gob. Or is it just me? Maybe you find that odd!
Recently my neighbour who had retired in the last year decided the other week to buy himself seven chickens. Six black ones and a grey one. He built a coop as well as a chicken run for them, which takes up the entire length of his back fence. Maybe six metres long or so and about three metres wide.
Now, this didn’t happen in the space of week. About five months ago, he unboxed what I thought was going to be a garden shed. All the pieces to it stayed disassembled stacked against his fence. Gradually over a couple of weeks I’d hear the shed being put together, so I thought, then nothing for some more weeks and no shed in sight.
Prior to this, around six to eight years ago he had a wife. She also had a little dog she would push around in a pram as it didn’t look right in the head. It’s tongue looked too long for it’s mouth and hung out the side like a limp piece of bacon. Not to mention the dog’s eyes were crossed. When the dog died, it got buried in the backyard in the same spot the chicken coop now stands.
I’ve never spoken more than ten words to my neighbour, English isn’t his first language. Nor had I met his wife. She used to go and stand in the backyard where the dog was buried and stand there in silent reflection for ages. One day, I noticed she no longer appeared in the yard, and I haven’t seen her since. Then for sometime, the husband would go and stand in the same spot his wife would, in his own quiet reflection, then he stopped too.
Around six years ago, the police came to my door and asked me if I knew anything about the bloke next door. Which was kind of odd to me that the police would do this. I also noticed a ‘Community Liason’ police officer was with them, too. I joked about where the dog was buried and how his wife dissapeared, and she is possibly buried with the dog in the backyard. My humour was lost on the cops. Could I have been right?
Back to the chicken coop.
So, eventually it was put together and placed above the very spot his dog is buried, and the wife, too. I am sticking to this narrative.
While I was mashing blueberries by the handful into my mouth, this morning. I saw my neighbour with a bucket in his hand and what appeared to be large chopsticks. Nothing odd about that at all. Until he started picking up the chicken poop one by one with the chopsticks.
If you have read this far, kudos! And gracias munchachos & muchachas!
But can you see what I did there?
I can, if I wanted to, now write a murder mystery simply because I watched my neighbour pick up chicken poop with chopsticks, along with noted behaviours over the time he has lived there.
That is all it takes! Well? You do need an over active imagination, too. But, I don’t have any tips on how to create one. That my friends is up to you and your own level of weirdness to the world around you!