10,000 some odd feet is apparently this writer’s sweet spot.
There’s something spectacular about being above it all, and yet very much able to make out what’s below.
Flying home from a short business trip Sunday morning, I was mesmerized by the normalness of it all.
Traffic marching like ants around pretzel hoops of highway brought me to a startling realization.
All these people I’ll never meet, and yet whom I was close enough to count if I had so desired, each of them had a story to tell.
What’s more, of course, is that we are not any of us (lest the Write-a-Novel-in-Just-Ten-Weeks crowd has its way) in possession of just that one novel tale.
I personally am keeper of not only any number of my own tales, but also of the tales of those who most affected my journey.
My life-defining tale of the Middle School Vice Principal who took a liking to my misguided angst is really a sequel to whatever left Mr. so-and-so with his savior complex in the first place.
The point is that there should never be a lack of stories, though of course we all feel that the world is at times dry.
This is for a few reasons:
First, we don’t actually speak to strangers anymore. (And we even less often truly listen to them.)
One of the reasons that we feel like we have heard every story before is that we are only listening to people whose very outlook on the world was formed by their interactions with us.
Second, we have, collectively mind you, a fear of commitment.
Starting a story is easy, it’s finishing them that is a bitch.
Love those stories about the author who scribbles a story on a napkin in the middle of the night (or, who, in my case, pretends to make phone calls so he can dictate scenes into his phone on Metros)? Sure you do. But what any writer really loves is the story of the girl who just finished her fifth and final draft.
What I call writer’s block is really an admission that I don’t have it in me to abandon another tale.
Better not to talk to the girl across the bar if I already know that my next night off is in 2019, right?
To finish a story, you have to start it. Borderline Yoda, perhaps. Yet makes untrue this, it does not.
From experience, I can tell you that abandoned one-time heroes become deeply fleshed-out characters in future tales. Weep not for the hero who never was – He ends up guiding the tale in next year’s thriller.
So what does all of this mean?
Pick up your pen religiously, but even more stridently never stop looking around. Write stories in your head even if there is no way you’ll reach paper before forgetting half the details.
The most verbose of us spent years talking to ourselves to hone our craft.
Let your writing be the same. What may seem glib is occasionally Zen. May this be one of those times:
The characters are out there, even if it takes reaching cruising altitude to identify them.