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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Found a short story while I was cleaning!

My mother got these roses for me the other day, ’cause I was feeling so miserable this week. I think it’s safe to say, that I have the best mother ever! 🙂

Felt better today than I have in about a week and I managed to actually get some things done! Was cleaning out my desk and I found this surprise of a short story. I must have written it when I worked at my old job. (It was a customer service position that used to get really boring on week nights, so sometimes I would sit at the desk and work on some of my stories.) I used to joke that it was the first time I could say that technically I was getting paid to write, hehe…

Anyway, I love finding things when you clean! It’s like, I didn’t know I had that…I love the play on words here, too. I think this clever story came from the prompt:

“Before the end of dinner…”    

Before the end of dinner, Earth told everyone he had an announcement. “It is very important everyone and I want you to listen,” he said loudly. Jupiter cleared his throat and moved his chair closer to the table. Saturn pulled out a mirror and started reapplying her lipstick. The other planets exchanged glances with each other and then looked on. Some rolled their eyes; others picked up forks and continued eating. “Pluto, you too, I want you to listen, even if you are just a cold, little bastard…”

Pluto just glared.

“Now,” continued Earth, “I know I’ve mentioned this trouble with global warming…”

“Only about a thousand times,” cut in Mercury. She wore her long, red hair in waves down her back, and flickered gorgeous blue eyes at Earth.

At the long, rectangular table that the planets all sat at, Mercury was the most beautiful. In the past ten years or so, however, Earth only seemed to be getting a little grayer and fatter. He sat at the very end of the table and his black hair drooped over his forehead and into his eyes. And he licked his lips constantly, as if he were thirsty.

Venus had even gone as far to ask if he was sick. Was it Acid? Chemical Wastes? And Uranus told him he looked a bit tipsy and then asked if he’d brought anything to share.

Earth always thanked them when it came to inquiries about his health and pointed out that it was just the same old problem: pollution and global warming.

Ceres, their newest and budding member and perhaps a little nervous, (he’d only been at a few meetings and so far didn’t understand the other planets great importance,) suggested that perhaps a Meteor had struck Earth; he was certain that he had seen some of their cousins floating dangerously close in the outer limits.

Earth took this comment with a dry laugh, a grimace and then took a swig of his coffee. “Anyway…now, my fellow planets,” he continued. “There is something new happening in the outer hemisphere. Some kind of new development. My earthlings inform me that it is Aliens, but to me it is quite a dark matter.”

“What is it?” asked Mars, impatient. He fidgeted in his chair and asked for more coffee. He wore dark rimmed glasses, had an ash colored face and coal-black hair. It was rumored that Earth was his distant father, but Mars was rebellious and in denial.

“I’m not sure,” said Earth. He cleared his throat and ran a hand down an invisible wrinkle in his gray suit. “They won’t tell me much.”

“Is that why you’ve called this meeting?” said Saturn as she flicked her blond hair away from her face. “To tell us something is happening but you don’t know what? What kind of use are you?”

“Now there,” said Venus, who was motherly by nature and couldn’t really help herself. By all appearances, she looked young, but something like unrest swirled behind her dark, purple eyes. “He is trying. Why don’t you be quiet so the rest of us can listen?”

“I, for one, want to know about these Aliens, if that is really what these mysterious creatures are,” said Jupiter with great importance and a voice that boomed and resonated across the room. He was handsome, this Jupiter, with his dark, smooth face and tall, strong stature.

“What are Aliens doing in the upper hemisphere?” asked Uranus, dumbly. He had wide, blue bat-like eyes.

“My God, why can’t you pay attention?” said Saturn.

“Lay off, Sat,” said Neptune as she patted Uranus’s shaky hand. She had dark, brown eyes, and dull brown hair. “Where’s your rings, Sat? Huh?”

“Now, if we can call this meeting to order,” put in Jupiter.

“Did you try the veal?” said Mars to his neighbor, the young Ceres.

“I don’t eat that dirty stuff,” said Earth instead.

Uranus stared rocking back and forth in his chair. He chewed on the ends of his fingernails. “The stars are too loud,” he murmured. “The stars are too loud! Make them stop! Neptune!”

“Now, look what you’ve gone and done!” said Neptune and she grabbed Uranus’s hand and pulled him gently away from the table. “You’ve all frightened him! I hope you’re proud!”

“I don’t see what there’s to be proud of,” said Venus as she glanced about the room.

“Something about the Veal,” said Mars, thoughtfully.

“I thought it was all about that dark matter,” said Saturn. Her perfect tan forehead crinkled, uncomfortably.

“I don’t know what you are all talking about,” said Jupiter. And he looked uncomfortable, like he was too important for such conversation. “Earth,” he said loudly in his deep voice. “You called this meeting. You bring order.”

A glass was rapped harshly on the table until its pieces shattered into Earth’s lap.

“Nicely done,” said Mars smartly.

Quiet!” said Earth. “I am sorry everyone. I did not mean to cause you all worry, nor was it my intention to cause chaos. I just wanted to take a toll to see how everyone will all be effected by this alien business.”

“Not effected at all on my end,” said Mars and for once he looked happy as he sipped his fifth cup of coffee.

Venus gave mars another glance, the coffee was making his dark hair stand on end. “There will be no troubles here,” she said. She smoothed a hand over her gray-brown hair which was pulled back in a French braid. “Although…it is getting harder for me to see.”

“I talked to you about that,” said Jupiter. “Red dots are not good for the sight…”

“Please,” said Saturn. “She can handle anything.

Mercury cleared her throat. “The sun informed me that the Aliens don’t like heat.”

“Where is he this time?” said Venus.

Earth shrugged, but it was Mercury who answered. “On vacation in Oahu. He informs me that there will be extra sun-burns there. He was almost giddy.”

Saturn snorted.

“If we’re done here,” said Neptune. “I’d like to take Uranus home now.”

Earth nodded and the two friends left.

“Close friends, those two are,” observed Jupiter.

“Yes,” said Earth.

“Why can’t we all just get along?” sighed Pluto.

Ceres glanced uncomfortably around the table. He wasn’t sure if that was a question that he was supposed to answer.

“It’s fine,” said Earth. “Meeting adjourned. Until next time.”

“Next time?” said Saturn.

“Yes, the earthlings inform me that there’s going to be a war soon.”

“Interplanetary?” asked Jupiter.

“Possibly,” said Earth.

“That should make life more interesting then.”

“Perhaps it will. I’ll see you all in another thousand years. Meeting adjourned. Oh, and Mars, would you please take care of your coffee cups? They’re littering up my trash.” He glanced pointedly at the waste bin next to the table, which was spilling over with plastic cups and plates from the dinner that they just had. Mars gave him a sullen look.

“Thank you,” said Earth, smartly, and he left the table with everyone else.