It’s a Writer’s Life!
My life, my friend, is interesting.
“Interesting” is one of those, well, interesting words. It has that ever-so-slightly pejorative air that differentiates it from its potential next-of-kin like “good”, but shies just short of something more stoutly ambivalent like “mixed”. Honestly, I employ it here simply because the interesting word “interesting” lends itself particularly well to that multi-hued, iridescent range of colors, flavors, shapes, and dimensions that comprises a full life.
I cannot speak for other writers, but for me writing is way more than an occupation. It’s a preoccupation! It’s an all-encompassing lens through which I see the world. Wherever I go, whatever I do, I’m writing stories. That woman in the grocery store–the one with the sad look on her face as she rummages through the condiments–what is she dealing with that has thrown her into such palpable angst? Loss? Anxiety? Financial hardship? A story is born.
The guy in the restaurant sitting across from a young boy, talking too eagerly, a tad too loud. Is he perhaps a single dad spending time with his son?
A friend was recently regaling me with a hilarious story when she stopped in mid-sentence and her eyes narrowed.
“Uh, you’re not gonna use this, right? I really don’t want to see this in print next week…”
So no, I would never use your story without permission. And no, I do not write about every single thing that occurs to me. But what can I say? I am definitely and unequivocally taking in the people and places around me and who knows when they will be reincarnated in some type of story at some point down the line (with enough blurring around the edges to protect the privacy of all those concerned, of course!).
But writing isn’t all fun and games and people-watching at restaurants. It’s serious business. Which is why I found myself reading a therapeutic book in preparation for writing some important chapters in my current serialized story Take Two. Disarming the Narcissist by Wendy Behar is a fascinating read for anyone dealing with people who have narcissistic tendencies, and if you’ve been following my story in Ami magazine, well, you know that Aryeh Kleinerman could use an autographed copy of the book.
Deep in the throes of learning all about the narcissist, I hardly noticed a family member leaning in to get a look at my latest and greatest read.
“Hmmm,” said she. “Why are you reading that book?”
“For my character,” I mumbled absently, flipping the page.
An hour later I emerged with significantly more insight and direction, satisfied that I could tackle the next chapters of my story.
There was a tap on my shoulder, a sympathetic pair of eyes focused gently on mine.
“Riva,” said this relative softly. “I think you’re being too hard on yourself.”
“Really?” I scanned my mental Rolodex trying to discern the context for this unexpected comment. “Uh, I’m not sure what you mean…”
“I don’t think you’re a narcissist at all,” she went on. “Why do you think you are?”
“I…uh, I don’t think I’m one either,” I stammered, trying to untangle the confusing threads of the conversation. “Why do you think I think I’m a narcissist?”
She gave me a blank, sincerely puzzled look and shook her head.
“But you just told me you were reading that book because of your CHARACTER!”
Sometimes my interesting life could use an omniscient narrator and maybe a good copyeditor for clarity. Don’t you think?!