Saturday, May 17, 2014

How does the writing process start?


I suspect each writer would answer the question uniquely but for me, the first step is to have an idea.  Next, you need to recognize that you have an idea, otherwise it will just slide out of your mind and edge its way into oblivion.  As well, writer needs to be out in the world, at least some of the time.   You can't be thinking of yourself and your picayune problems, menu plans or shopping lists.   No, it's best to be a people watcher and see what events transpire.

I was recently parking my little car on a shopping street and  waiting for a long line of traffic to pass to my left so I could open my driver's side door.   My glance took in an older woman who was engaged in tugging on a plant in a flower bed at the front of a pharmacy.   Over her arm she had slung a plastic shopping bag from which emerged the heads of some of her floral booty.   Now, this wasn't taking place in darkness or even dusk.   No, it was full day--around noon on a Saturday.   I watched in amazement.   The woman was late middle age and conservatively dressed.  I briefly felt the urge to leap from my car and do something or at least say something but then the moment passed.   

It helped that she was unsuccessful in her efforts--at least the one I had been observing.   The plant refused to yield to her grasp and was released.   The woman walked on, scanning her immediate range of vision, presumably for less troublesome quarry.   She saw me gazing at her from inside my car and favoured me with a large smile.  She looked unremarkable and her demeanour displayed no shame at discovery or embarrassment at her actions.   This was when I had a second opportunity and could have rolled down my passenger side window and made a remark or stepped out and gone over and challenged her. But I didn't.   

What would I say?   Something like, "Why are you taking other people's flowers?"   Maybe she was mentally ill.   In that case, surely she deserved a small pleasure.   What were a few flowers?   It wasn't the same as stealing from inside a store, was it?   Would I have said something then?

This churned around in my mind at odd times for several ensuing weeks until it inevitably found its way into a short story that is going to be an entry in a local library's writing contest.    I'll post it here afterwards as the entries can't be previously published.   So, at least her pilfering provided an ultimate purpose for me.

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