After having written a number of short essays (which were read by maybe five or six people if I count myself) it became easy to think about continuing the exercise. Why not, the subjects I had chosen were familiar to most people and the words seemed to come easily.
When I thought about writing something new I ran into a problem that I find is rather difficult to solve. I don’t have a subject. I wrote about retirement because that is fast approaching. I wrote about technology because you can’t seem to escape its reach. I wrote about babies because I like babies and there are three new ones that I especially like. And, I wrote about cell phones because I don’t like them, they bother me and writing about them was part of my cell phone anger management program.
I couldn’t believe that those were the only subjects that came to mind but they were. I know how some of the great authors found their subjects but that doesn’t help me much. I can’t volunteer to drive an ambulance in the Great War or run off to become a correspondent covering the Spanish Civil War like Hemingway. I suppose I could look for adventure, tell Jeanie goodbye and join the army but I didn’t particularly like my previous military experience and that was just in the reserves plus I’d probably have to get in better shape. It might be interesting though to be an Army Ranger or a Navy Seal and it would give me lots to write about. She’d probably get upset.
There just didn’t seem to be any excitement in the subjects that came to mind. Running out to get the oil changed is not exactly the same as running with the bulls. But, maybe that’s okay. Even if I ran with the bulls or joined the French Foreign Legion it’s possible the stories I would tell would not match the great authors in the way they described their adventures or developed an underlying theme.
I can either write stories about subjects I know nothing about or write stories based on my own experiences. I should probably bring those personal experiences to life and concentrate on making the writing itself exciting.
He could see the change coming. He could feel September in the air. The wind howled and the angry waves crashed on that late summer afternoon as the old man reached down and pulled out the nightcrawler that would ride the number 4 crappie rig to the bottom of the lake where the jumbo perch roam.
His wife of over 40 years looked out over the back grasslands that had been a big part of her home and her life for so long. The sun streamed down on the old homestead as she thought about the way it used to be, the way it used to look, the way she remembered it. How could she get it back? What could she say that would get him to mow the lawn?
The other times darkness had cloaked my activities. This time, it was broad daylight and instead of darkness I was trying to be transparent by being out in the open. There were people all around but I knew that they were busy with their mundane lives and other than the young man in the blue shirt who glanced my way I didn’t think that I had been noticed at all.
I had gone through it in my mind probably a hundred times yet I found I still had my doubts about whether I could pull it off and just disappear before their eyes. A little sweat started to form on my forehead and I adjusted my baseball cap as I began my work. The entries had to be right and in the right order. They had to be right.
I clinched and then released my fists and forced myself to relax. Start, start now or you’re going to raise suspicion, start now. It all seemed familiar but so different. The codes were entered slowly. Nobody seemed to notice and blue shirt was busy in his own little world. More information was fed in and then more. Good. A few more entries and then a response which had to be exactly right. My mind is screaming, “hurry up” at the same time I am telling myself to stay calm, slow down. Click, click and I’m in. A few more miscellaneous whirring sounds, a click and I’ve done it.
I leave slowly and feel a smile forming on my face as my nondescript late model sedan heads east and disappears. I did it. I made an ATM withdrawal——in Spanish.
That’s it. I had found my subjects. After thinking about it for awhile it just seems to me that subjects based on personal experience sound real because they are believable and ring true. What do I know about the CIA or Mt. Kilimanjaro or hang gliding through the Rockies? My stories will be based on my experiences and I’ll try to make my writing bring those experiences to life for others. I’ll tell what happened, I’ll keep it believable and I’ll keep it real.
The late afternoon sun of October sparkled off the water and shown through the bayside windows of the conference hall as I entered the room and prepared myself for three long, dreary days of listening to people I didn’t want to hear tell me things I had heard hundreds of times before. As I walked across the room I could feel eyes, beautiful blue eyes, looking my way. I glanced up and saw her over at one of the exhibits smiling at me. Young, blond and beautiful. Why did they always have to be young, blond and beautiful? She was young, blond and beautiful and she was coming my way. I know I should have turned and walked out of….
Wait. I am going to tell believable stories about what really happened and then I go and tell something like this? What is that? She was young, blond and beautiful and she was coming my way at the October conference? It was May, not October, the conference was in May. There that’s better. Now it’s accurate, now it’s believable. Lesson learned.