Thursday, September 10, 2009

Viewing the World Differently

Picture it - Labor Day, I'm watching a repeat of The View, and they're talking about comedians. At one point, Whoopi says I think, we as comedians, have a different way of viewing the world!

Her words almost slapped me upside the head. They rang so very true for me and, of course, started the brain cells synapsing.

My Question: Do we, as writers, view the world differently?

My response: YES! YES! YES!

The world around me - work, life, going to the grocery, the bar, the wherever - provides endless sources of inspiration. An email from a friend, a simple comment, and so much more equal inspiration.

Last year, sometime in the autumn, the trees displaying their absolute brilliant fall colors - reds, gold, yellows - and I'm walking the dog early one very chilly morning. I approach the maple trees near the front of our subdivision and see the leaves falling like ethereal pieces of gold. As I get closer to the trees I hear a popping sound - pop, pop, pop - as the leaves disengage from the tree and float down to the dew soaked ground. Yes - pop, pop, pop! The sound was audible in the crisp quietness of the morning. I stood there for the longest time listening and watching, absorbed in this transitional moment of the stately maple tree. I mean, who knew leaves made a popping noise. I certainly didn't.

This one moment in time, viewed with a writer's eyes, became a moment in time for a character in one of my manuscripts.

At some point in my life, at the bar with friends, enter the dance bar, and there's a man, somewhat overweight, on the dance floor. The fog is spilling onto the floor and this man is dancing . . . all by himself. He's the only one on the dance floor. He's living his life, and not just existing. He had way more courage than I would ever have. You're not going to catch me being the only one on the dance floor. Heck, without copious amounts of alcohol, you're not going to get me on the dance floor at all.

This one moment in time, viewed with a writer's eyes, became a moment in time for a character in one of my manuscripts.

I look at the world around me differently. I look at the world with a writer's eyes. Every moment in time - an argument in a restaurant, public displays of affection, a harried waiter, a woman sitting alone at a table in a nursing home cafeteria while everyone else is sitting with someone, and so much more - is inspiring to me.

You see, I see the world just a little bit differently. The leaves popping off the tree on a crisp autumn day are a thing of beauty. A man dancing by himself on the dance floor is also a thing of beauty. Why is he dancing alone? Why doesn't he seem to care that he's dancing alone? What brought him to this one singular moment in his life? How did he gain so much confidence as to dance alone as if nobody was watching?

My brain cells kick into gear and a glimmer of an idea, a scene for this, that, or some book, begins to form.

I have a different way of viewing the world. How about you?



Angie Ledbetter said...

Yep, ditto. Then there are the crazy voices in my head. And also the obsessive need to write scenarios in my head for people/events I see all around me involving strangers. :)

Tess said...

Sometimes. Other times I get so task oriented that I forget to look around me. You know, really look and take it in. A good reminder today, Scoot. Thanks.

love the man on the dance floor. I can just see it!

Scott said...

Angie - I know all about those crazy voices in the head. : )

Tess - the man on the dance floor! It's been years, but I can still remember walking into the dance part of the bar and seeing that man dancing all by himself. Nobody was on the dance floor but him. I could also see some of the younger people looking at him and knew they were thinking 'what a nut???'. Well, that man probably had more courage than any of them will ever have. The scene made it into the manuscript I'm currently revising. Strange how that happens.

beth said...

I do this *constantly.* In fact, I will sometimes start thinking of the actually passages, dialog, or narration AS I AM DOING THINGS.

Davin Malasarn said...

I think everyone has a different view of the world, and it's the writer's job to become more sensitive to our own unique view. Our craft is to be able to discern that unique view and get it down on paper. What a lovely post, Scott.

Michelle McLean said...

Oh yes, we definitely see the world differently. And I LOVE it :D

The other day, I used the word "rippled" in my manuscript to describe something, and for the rest of the day, all I did was notice how everything around me rippled. The leaves were rippling on there branches, excitement was rippling through my children as they got ready for school...LOL it's kind of fun being in the same world as everyone else, but in a slightly different way :)

ElanaJ said...

This is beyond true! Scott you are so wise. I've done this. I was outside, and it was quiet. But it wasn't really quiet. The wind was blowing. Crickets. The dull hum of traffic. And now that's in my book. Because it's never really SILENT--as I found out in my real life.

Robyn Campbell said...

Scoot,(Tess' typo made me chuckle. She meant Scott, but typed Scoot. *grin* I needed that today.

Anyway, I tried to comment earlier, but it did not go through. (been that kind of day)

I love what you said about last autumn. It sounded like you had a MOMENT that lasted a lifetime. In your memory you can always go back to that.

And we writers DEFINITELY see the world and everything in it differently. Oh yeah.

I have a desk down at the stable to write on. I hear the chickens clucking,the horses running, and countless other 'farm' sounds. It makes me glad that I am where I am physically, spiritually, and emotionally too. Wonderful post, Scoot. :0)

Rebecca Knight said...

I LOVE this post, Scott :)! I feel like I was there in both those moments you described and got tingly all over.

I think that just proves your point ;).

Lady Glamis said...

Beautiful post, Scott. Davin and I have often talked about this concept, how we view the world differently as writers. It's amazing the more things we see, I think. It almost feels like I take everything in DEEPER, if that makes sense. It's more internalizing, more personal, more passionate. I almost feel sorry for anybody who DOESN'T write. Do they ever feel this way, I wonder?

Scott said...

Beth - me too. I think, as writers, we're luckier than the rest of humanity, because any moment in time can become so much more for us!

Michelle - I love it too. Any time I got out with friends, and my best friend catches me staring at something that's going on, he's like "uh-huh, that's going in your next book, isn't it?" He's always right.

Elana - thanks. You're right, it's never silent. I love to sit out on the patio first thing in the morning and just . . . listen. The birds. The squirrels. The hum of traffic nearby. The world is an amazing soundscape.

Robyn - yes, I noticed Tess' typo, but liked the typo, so wasn't about to say anything. You can call me Scoot, just don't call me Scoot-er! Ha! I hope I don't ever forget that moment last autumn. It sent chills up my spine. I mean, who knew leaves 'popped' as they fell from the tree? I often sit at the kitchen table to write, because I can see all the fountains, bird feeders, and everything in the backyard. I love when the birds chatter at each other, or the hummingbirds chase one another all over the yard. Love. It.

Rebecca - woo-hoo! I'm glad you felt you were there. Let me tell you, both experiences were amazing, and I hope they come across just as amazing in the books I've written those scenes into. Fingers. Crossed.

Lady Glamis - thanks. I think you're absolutely right that writers see things on a deeper, more internal level. A lone man on the dance floor isn't just a lone man on the dance floor to a writer. The writer, at least this writer, wants to know why he's alone. A writer, at least me, saw the man's act as courageous rather than foolish, which is what I'm sure other people were thinking. It must be a lonely life if you're not a writer. There's so much to see . . . below the surface.