One of my favorite things as a writer, and as just the kind of person I am I suppose, is to sit back and people watch. I love to overhear snippets of conversations and watch body language from across the room. My brain busily makes up scenarios for the people around me, even on the highway while I’m driving (though, happily, not often or to the detriment of my driving). I get so much inspiration from these little forays to the outskirts of socialization that sometimes it blows my mind.
One of my least favorite things as a writer, and as just the kind of person I am, is people watching. I can be over here, minding my own business, and my brain is lazily observing whoever is around me and doing whatever it is they are doing…and then BAM a kid cries, a person yells, a car horn blares. I want to help them, I want to figure out the problem, offer to hold the kid or buy it whatever the frazzled mommy won’t (contrary to my own frazzled mommy self awareness and knowledge). I want to fix the issues. I can’t fix the issues and, even if I could, most of the time my anxiety levels would be through the roof just asking if they would like for me to help.
All of that aside, one of my love/hate relationships with people watching is, in fact, all of the inspiration. Sometimes I get ideas and help with something I’m actually working on. I hear a snippet of a one sided conversation and my mind races to the finish line, filling out the unheard participant’s lines, switching the characters around, and fitting it into the space allotted for such a scene. Much more often, however, I get inspired to write random conversations, random scenes, from random pieces that I had never thought of before foolishly setting out to people watch. I have so many scraps of inspired receipt backs and notecards with weird little scenes or descriptions on them that I wouldn’t have any idea where to start with them (and that’s AFTER a big clear out last year).
Take, for example, today’s foray into the world for a sandwich and chips. As I was about to pull into my parking space, an elderly gentlemen drove past in a decent sized truck. I thought to myself, I have never seen a person look so much like an angler fish. Now I have a complete description of a man somewhat based off of that poor guy who’s distorted image I spotted through 100 degrees and two moving windshields, that, so far anyway, does not fit into any of my current works in progress.
What are your favorite/least favorite things about what you do?