Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Seeing Stories Everywhere

One of my family members complains that I think everything could become a story. (Yeah, my response to this is, that's all you can find about me to complain about? Aren't you trying?) But, it's true. I really got into the life experience and writing thing more than ten years ago, and maybe now it has just become a bad habit. Or maybe my brain was always wired that way and with practice the wire is now white out.

I was at a Christmas party last month and a guy was talking about going to Chile to visit his wife's family. Someone made a joke about driving there. I gasped and said, "Steve! You could drive there and write a book about the trip!" He didn't think so, but, come on! I mean, depending on what happened and all, it has potential.

Today our minister was telling me about how he found out he could sing when he and a buddy tried out for their college choir because the choir was going to Florida and was short of male singers, so... The guy only wanted a free trip to Florida but found out he could hit notes that a lot of men can't and it changed the course of his life. Well, only partially, because he still became a minister, but now he's a minister who can sing and read music. I said to him, "That's a story." He said, "It was a life changing event. I went from being a campus nobody to becoming someone the college president waved to when he passed me on the sidewalk." (Which isn't a lot, but it's something.) I said, "That's a YA story."

Then just now I saw The Baby Primary by Darren Garnick at Slate. Garnick set out on a quest to have his baby held by all the presidential candidates campaigning in New Hampshire and did a photo essay about the experience. Now, I'm sure there are some people who cringe just at the concept. What? Was he using his child? Or, who cares? Who would read such a thing?

I would. I did. I get it. In fact, I think Garnick should take the concept and expand it into a novel about a guy who sets out on a quest to have his baby held by all the fictional presidential candidates campaigning in New Hampshire. What does holding the baby say about each candidate? How do they react? What does he learn about them? What does he learn about their volunteers? How are each candidate's volunteers different from the other candidates' volunteers? In order to be a dynamic character, the father should change in some way, learn something. How? What?

Hell, he could write the book from the baby's point of view!

Oh, my gosh. How about a kids' book about a kid who is on a quest to have her picture taken with every presidential candidate?

Once you get into the habit of looking for them, stories are everywhere.



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