It feels like a long time since my previous word fest about the woe’s of being a writer, when in truth, it is a thrill of its own. I love writing, if you haven’t already noticed. Today I’m delving a little deeper into that remedy to cure a writer’s block – the prompts that trigger a story. A sight, a word, a sound, a piece of music, two people quarrelling, or flirting, incidents that delay, rush, ruin or make an event – all of which can sometimes make us think, ‘Hang on a moment, that’s a great idea for a story’ or a character/events; events like miracle births, disaster weddings, or a drunk person at a party.
Though there are multiple books that contain pictures, quotes or words to stave the Block, I do find that most of the time, my writing is prompted by living breathing life around me, especially people I know or come across. I observe people and wonder what has brought them to that particular point in life. I guess if you really think about it, writers are a scary breed. Yes. I am scary – be very afraid!
I am sure you’ve all heard this at least once, that most writers write stories based on the people they get to know in their life. So, family and friends, work colleagues, business partners, classmates, teachers, crushes, bosses, people in retail or in public. You can all be the next prompt for a story, or a character, or an event. Hence, none of you who are close to a writer, know one, or accidentally meet one without realising – none of you are completely safe from going down in paper.
However, if this makes you feel any better, or safer, then you should really know that the one person who always influences our writings is none other than ourselves, the writer. We can’t escape us! I can be honest and let you know that almost all characters I have written, and will perhaps write in the future, have and will always have a miniscule of my traits. So in effect, I am my biggest victim.
As I started chasing up other writers’ thoughts on writing, I came across this: “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia” (E. L Doctorow) and couldn’t help but laugh. It has a semblance of truth, or perhaps too much truth in its words. Writers pour a bit of themselves in their characters, and they imagine their personality, give them voice, and sometimes live the characters to try to understand how they may behave. We get to have multiple personalities and not end up in a mental home. I mean, the four major characters in my novel, In Strange Company, all have a bit of me in their personality.
I believe we always get to meet a part or segment of each writer in the work they produce, so I will be no different. I had loads of fun writing the book, and a painful number of years battling with editing and re-writes. We grew up together, so you can understand my reluctance to let it loose, let you all know me a little bit more from behind the eyes of the characters.
Working in retail you get to meet a ton of people, each with their own story. I met one such lady, who told me an extraordinary tale of psychics and fortune-telling, and so, she became my next prompt/muse for novel number two. It was as if the story had literally walked in and said, ‘Here, write me’.
Basically, my point is, as a writer, if I see a spark then I can’t help but use that to ignite a tale. People are so interesting and dynamic, and rightfully so, they are the biggest and best prompts that a writer can come across.
Our cities are full of people, think about the number of people you meet each day. Honestly, how many of you have woven more that a few stories based on people you’ve known, or briefly met?