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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bring a little real life to the imaginary.

Today’s post.  Taking our characters from those nearest and dearest to us.  Or those we just happen to pass by.

Most writers are observers.  My husband calls it nosey, but I’m sticking with observing.  :D  We people watch.  Listen in on conversations. Study how people interact with each other.  For most of us, we’ve done this our whole lives without even realizing it.  Others it’s taken some getting used to, but if you’re a writer, you’re going to do it at one point or another.

Take for instance, the day my husband and I were waiting in the hospital’s laboratory for my daughter to get some blood drawn.  I was taking care of my daughter—making sure she didn’t run away.  :D—when my husband pokes me in the side.  “Look over there,” he said and tilted his head in the direction of an elderly lady being pushed in a wheelchair by a radiology tech.

That, of course, wasn’t the part that was funny, it was the fact that the woman was talking at the top of her voice—I say talking because I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean to be so loud.  Anyway she’s asking the tech why they always do that to her and why couldn’t they just leave her be.

At first I felt sorry for her, here she was probably about 80 or 90 and she was getting poked and proded when all she wanted was to be left alone.

But the more she and the tech “talked,” I realized it wasn’t that at all.  It was the fact that the elderly woman (we'll call her WW from now on) was upset about being pushed to the waiting room after her procedure.  She wanted to go talk with the woman who checked her in.

Now I have to give credit to the tech.  She never once got angry or nasty with WW, no matter how much WW dished out.  The tech quietly explained that WW had to wait there so the transport company would pick her up. And no she couldn’t see the lady who checked her in because she was with other patients. 

She told her she’d be right back and she was going to call the transport company and then locked the wheels on the chair.  She turned to the receptionist behind her and asked for her to watch WW.  The receptionist wasn’t happy about doing it, but nodded and the tech took off toward radiology again, presumably to get the transport company’s number from WW's chart. 

The minute the tech disappeared, WW unlocked the wheels and propelled herself toward the check in lady--who was done the hall in one of the three rooms designated for it. The receptionist paid no attention to her.  I’m not sure if she didn’t care or just didn’t notice--honestly I don't think she liked working there.  She wasn't really all that nice.

 Since WW was still talking very loudly I heard her plainly tell the check-in woman that she hadn’t been seen for her test yet.  All she’d had done was moved from one side of the waiting room to the other, which of course wasn’t true.  I saw the tech wheel her in from radiology. 

I don’t know what happened after, because we got called in for bloodwork, but I was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes.  My husband was the same.  It was hilarious.  It really was. 

And I knew I’d have to use that lady in a book.  She was too funny not too. 

On the other hand, the other day I was shopping and I had a full cart and two screaming kids.  I was embarrassed and frustrated so I went up to the first cash register and waited.  The minute I got up to him, he took a look at my cart, then me (with my hair standing up on end, I’m sure) and took out his closed sign.  “Sorry, Ma’am,” he told me.  “I’m closed.  You’ll have to find another register.”

I’ve worked in retail so I know this was a big “no-no,” so I said, “ You can’t do that.  You were just open.  You have to wait until you’re finished with the line.”

He smiled.  “I’m closed.  Go somewhere else.” And then he walked away. 

Needless to say I was pissed.  I did go to another register, but I made sure the poor woman running that one knew exactly what happened.  I was still polite about it, but what I really wanted to do was rant and rave.  Instead, I’ve decided to write him into a murder mystery I’ve been playing around with and use him as one of the victims. 

I’m not a violent person, but boy did I come up with a great opening scene for that book.  :D 

What real-life experiences have motivated you to tweak them and use them in a book?