The Writer Brain: Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

Well, went to bed last night and I had a total of 10 views on my blog. Just checked my stats here at about 5 o’clock and I have 109 views! And from different countries, too! (I love that. That you can connect with someone halfway across the world. Oh, the power of words…thank you Mr. Internet!)

So, thank you, Joss Whedon fan out there, who shared my post: A bit of Joss Whedon, Firefly, Dialogue, and Great Writing. It is interesting the traffic change that just one “share” can do…amazing!

More Myrtle Beach…but I love the blue color here – looks so otherworldly! If only it was in better focus…

So, as I was sitting in church this morning I had a thought about what I was going to write about today, I guiltily recorded it in my phone’s notebook as some old lady looked on – no ma’am, I am not texting in church, honest!

I was thinking about this:  How as writers we always try to get the better story.

We twist and we turn things to suit our fancy. (Well, I do sometimes!)

For example, say you are presented with this situation: Your co-worker shows up late for work and then acts awkwardly around the boss.

My thoughts: What is she wearing? She looks sloppy. Okay, there’s a wrinkle in the blouse, her lipstick is smeared…is that cover-up or some kind of bluish-bruise on her cheek? Wait, no, it’s just a freckle. Perhaps the boss took her out for dinner. Maybe he hit on her. Oh, I know! Perhaps they went out to eat, got drunk, hooked up and now they are late because they had to get the morning after pill, but the car ran out of gas and maybe they had a flat tire…oh, and now she’s looking at me funny because I’ve been staring too long at the wrinkle on her blouse. Look away! Look away!

Well, you get the point. As writers we are always looking for the better story. We are always striving for that little bit of detail that will tip our readers off to the fact that hey, something important is about to happen here, pay attention!

In truth: The co-worker was probably late because her kid was sick and she acted uncomfortable around the boss, because he said something to irritate her the day before. That darn boss!

But, the other story was much, much more fun. I stumbled upon an episode of Castle the other day. It was a rerun of the first episode in the whole series, where Castle more or less accidentally helps Beckett solve a case. She gets irritated because he pushes and he prods: Why do people do the things they do? What’s their motive? What makes the better story? But he ends up helping her solve the case. Again, now, who doesn’t love Nathan Fillion?

For me, I am always seeing writing opportunities in normal situations.

For example: The old lady sitting next to me in church. She is wearing brown shoes. She’s got a hat on. White curly hair and sun spots on her legs. She is wearing a green skirt, a forest green in color, but her blouse that she wears is a turquoise green, patterned with flowered embroidery. Her clothing is old, but so is she. But the smile and sparkle in her eyes says that she is in excellent health. She acts nervous though; she told me during the greeting and welcoming portion of the service, it is because she is new, she doesn’t know anyone. But she is so kind to me, with a warm smile. She asks me about my interests. She smiles and pats my shoulder. She encourages me. This perfect stranger, who I only met five minutes ago.

My writer brain is thinking: Holy crap! This woman is a guardian angel. She’s one of God’s own. Oh, and she smells nice. Angels are supposed to smell nice, right? Perhaps she’s on a mission. I haven’t been feeling well…maybe she’s here to heal me, oohh, hallelujah!

(Laughs). Well, you get the point. Again. And I actually did think that today! What a nice elderly woman! I hope I see her again next time. And if I don’t…*cue creepy music*

I guess she was there for a reason. To inspire me to write this post to say: Hey, we writer’s do think differently sometimes…we prod and we poke and we stretch. We look for the detail that no one else sees. We look for the extraordinary in everyday situations. There is art in life. Just like we can create art. And going above and beyond the usual…

Well, that just makes everything much more fun!

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