Friday, October 12, 2012

Looking at Life Through a Lens

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig
LensI’d been wanting to read something a little different, so I glanced through my TBR (to be read) list.  Keith Richards’ Life was on there, and I figured I couldn’t possibly go any different than that.   I’d become interested in him because I’d read an article in the Times UK a couple of years ago that Richards had always had a longing to be a librarian. 

The book was an interesting read—definitely eye-opening in sections. :) And entertaining, since I have such a quiet life and am a pretty reserved person and Keith Richards…we’ll just say that Keith and I don’t have much in common. Well, except for the fact that we’re both parents.  And one other similarity—the way we both observe the world through a lens:
The radar is on whether you know it or not. You cannot switch it off. You hear this piece of conversation from across the room, “I just can’t stand you anymore”… That’s a song. It just flows in. And also the other thing about being a songwriter, when you realize you are one, is that to provide ammo, you start to become an observer, you start to distance yourself. You’re constantly on the alert. That faculty gets trained in you over the years, observing people, how they react to one another. Which, in a way, makes you weirdly distant. You shouldn’t really be doing it. It’s a little of Peeping Tom to be a songwriter. You start looking round, and everything’s a subject for a song.
Richards, Keith (2010-10-26). Life (p. 183). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.

Some days it all comes naturally to me and everything is a story.  Some days I have to remind myself that I’m looking for material, words, character descriptions and quirks, etc.

If you ever find yourself blocked, a change of scenery can frequently do an amazing amount of good.  Not only are you escaping your house and whatever might be distracting you/keeping you from working, but you also have the opportunity to be inspired by other people and places.

I’ll sit in the carpool line at the high school and work to finish my page goal that I start each morning.  I have the car off and the windows down and I’m completely surrounded by characters…usually the same characters each day, too, so the characters' stories unfold as a serial.  The woman who comes in backwards on the one-way school driveway each day (even though a cop stopped her a week ago and gave her a warning.)  The grandfather who listens to World War II era songs in his car while eating a pack of crackers. The middle aged guy who drums his fingers on the side of his car while staring off into space.

I’m a character too, writing every day as I wait.  I push my seat all the way back to accommodate my laptop.  Sometimes I’ll accidentally blow my car horn from enthusiastic typing.  :)

Do you write on the go much?  Do you feel like you look at the world through a lens?

Image: MorgueFile—Procrastinator