An Exercise in Waiting

05 Feb

thCAXOZ9W6I was so good this morning, I took my laptop with me to the car place so I could write while I waited. But what I found was a waiting area full of life. Two men were watching the Today show. I’ve always thought of it as the precursor to our modern 24-7 news networks. But my brain wanders. Both the guys watching TV were under 40. Two other guys (must be the day for men to bring in their cars,) both over 60, were reading, one a book, the other his iPad. Must be a generational thing. Another guy who looked to be somewhere in his mid-to-late 40’s is, like me, working on his computer (note to businesses who make people wait: put plug-ins in your waiting areas.) He kept getting up, leaving, then returning with papers. I’m guessing he’s a rep. of some kind who’s taking up the plugin I want.

I’m not the only woman here. Since I’ve been here (about ½ an hour), there’s been four women come and go. One was waiting for a ride to get back to work. The other had her mom come and get her. I know because she told her son that Nana was coming.

My point is they’re all normal people doing what normal people do. No one stands out, no one is acting strangely It’s a scene that would never make it into a book.

Now, there have been times when the people around me do make it into my prose. I wrote about one not long ago. But no one today had turned into a character.

We can’t take slices of life and just plop them directly into our book, no matter how real they are. At least not ones from a Toyota dealership on a Monday morning, in Boise, Idaho. We have to do a little inventing, a little embellishment. We take the people we see, their actions, dress, and looks in to account, then let our imaginations run. That’s what’s what makes writing fun.

That guy working on his computer—the one who keeps getting up and returning with papers—suddenly becomes an computer hacker posing as a representative from a vender who is trying to catch a salesman with his company who is stealing from them.

How about the old guy with his iPad? He turns into an FBI agent tracking an employee who has been making threats against government officials. He is coordinating the agents who are about to move in for the arrest. And on it goes. A story for everyone.

thCA6OWSRKWatch the people around you when you’re out. Take each one and give them a story. You may never use the saga you invent for them, or it may spark something interesting. It’s all about exercising your skills.

How do you exercise your creative muscles?


22 responses to “An Exercise in Waiting

  1. maryvine

    February 5, 2013 at 7:09 AM

    I like your imagination, Peggy. I could wait for three hours with these people and not come up with these imaginative characters. I did form a hero from a rancher I’d seen and heard about, but that was not much of a stretch of my imagination.

    • Peggy Staggs

      February 5, 2013 at 8:30 AM

      I love looking at people and imagining what their home looks like. If they have a happy life or…well you get the idea.

  2. Janis McCurry

    February 5, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    I would probably be taking a nap! Nice you put your time to good use.

    • Peggy Staggs

      February 5, 2013 at 8:30 AM

      Lucky you. I can’t sleep in public. It has hade for some very long trips.

  3. Judith Keim

    February 5, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    Peggy, I was laughing by the time I finished your blog because I always take unsuspecting people around me in a similar situation and make up things about them..sometimes horrible things, sometimes happy-ending stories. I’m so glad we don’t yet have the ability to read minds because a lot of people would be very annoyed with me! And yet in one of my created worlds, minds can be read!

    • Peggy Staggs

      February 5, 2013 at 8:34 AM

      Reading minds would take all the fun out of it. I’d probably find out that they are just as boring as I am.

  4. stephanieberget

    February 5, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    I wish I had your imagination. What great scenarios you’ve created.

    • Peggy Staggs

      February 5, 2013 at 8:37 AM

      I think it comes from traveling so much, seeing so many different people in different situations. When I was a kid It was something to pass the time, now it’s just fun.

  5. Clarissa Southwick

    February 5, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Great blog, Peggy. Today, I exercised my creative muscles on the guy who was honking angrily at me because I chose to stop my car rather than run over the crossing guard. I tried to imagine reasons why he might be in such a hurry. Sometimes, this type of thinking leads to a novel, but today I couldn’t convince myself that the guy was not a jerk.

  6. Jennifer

    February 5, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    It’s so true. When you plug into your “writer’s mind” everything becomes a story.

    • Peggy Staggs

      February 6, 2013 at 8:16 AM

      And it makes life more interesting.

  7. ramblingsfromtheleft

    February 5, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    Glad to know you are a fellow “people watcher,” Peggy. Those are the times when you least expect to find a gem to store away for future use … those unexpected moments waiting on a bank line or in a dentist’ office. It’s great fun, isn’t it??

    • Peggy Staggs

      February 6, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      It is great fun. And you’re right, the things you see and hear are amazing.

  8. marie adams

    February 5, 2013 at 5:24 PM

    Peg, I always enjoy reading what you write. wish I could see more of it! marie

    • Peggy Staggs

      February 6, 2013 at 8:19 AM

      I’m working on it. Keep your fingers crossed.

  9. Lynn Mapp

    February 5, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    Peggy, I don’t do that nearly as much as I should. I tip my hat to you, and…I’ll try to create stories about people in my orbit.

    • Peggy Staggs

      February 6, 2013 at 8:20 AM

      Lynn, you have such a rich and varied group in your orbit.

  10. C. K. Crouch

    February 5, 2013 at 11:41 PM

    I never really think about the people. But I have had thoughts about the way all the parents gather on the playground before school it out. It is funny a real live gathering of the clans almost. Of course there are grades pre k through 5 coming out of the school eventually.

    • Peggy Staggs

      February 6, 2013 at 8:23 AM

      It’s always interesting to see who people chose to associate with. Some never really leave the safety of Jr. High.

  11. ana Morgan

    February 6, 2013 at 8:12 AM

    I have had to fly recently. Watching people in airports and on planes is good fodder for characters.

    • Peggy Staggs

      February 6, 2013 at 8:25 AM

      I love airports. There isn’t anywhere else where you can find so many different people. Not just at the gate, but also those outside waiting for their people to arrive.


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