Friday, March 23, 2012

A storyteller's glasses

The storyteller may forget the grocery list while she people watches and plots novels, but she's not trying to be forgetful.  It's just that her prescription for seeing the world includes the formula "Writer".
Sometimes I think that writers, and specifically storytellers, see the world in a slightly different way then everyone else.  

For example, when a writer reads history, she can find something interesting in almost any place and historical period.  The conflicts in history become feeding ground for stories.  Girls weren't allowed to go to war during the 1800's? How about a girl who does.  There were men on the Titanic who selfishly took valuable seats in lifeboats while women drowned? How about a girl who calls them out for it. Thus history becomes more powerful to a writer because she create characters who live that history and those conflicts.  Same goes for scientific discoveries, twists on old fables and fairy tales, and the ever potent question "What if?".

Then there's movie watching and book reading, both of which are simultaneously spoiled and enriched for a writer.  She can't see a film without picking it to bits.  If she's reading a book with lousy characters she has a lot less patience than she did before she was a writer.  She can distinguish why she likes certain stories and why she dislikes others. She notices themes. She is entranced by characters.  Hopefully, when a writer watches or reads a really good story, she is encouraged.  Hopefully, good stories spur her on to write her own stories with more passion, motivation, and skill.

Finally, when a Writer goes to the grocery store, the bratty child, over-talkative teenager, clerk with a chip on her shoulder, and man shouting into his cell phone all provide ideas about characters and stories.  The writer looks at things from the perspective of Story, Character, and Theme and sometimes misses the less consequential things, such as grocery lists and being places on time.  Also, the people who a writer knows are prime candidates for inspiration in her stories.  This includes, but is not limited to strange quirks, odd histories, funny mannerisms, strong character traits, and embarrassing stories.

So if you are a writer and you see the world through a slightly different pair of glasses, don't be alarmed. This is a perfectly normal thing for a writer to experience and should be encouraged, not downplayed. Enjoy the way you see the world.  Learn from it.  Hone that writer's lens prescription.

If you know a writer and they seem to notice the unnecessary random things while missing the grocery list - don't worry. They're just seeing the world through a very unique prescription.  And ultimately, we'll all benefit.


*These are generalizations. Not all writers will think particularly this way- this is just things, both humorous and serious that I have noticed about the way I view life as a writer. :)

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