|Posted by susanjmcleod on January 19, 2009 at 5:18 PM|
It might not be polite to listen to other people's conversation, but as a writer, I just can't help it. They can be a goldmine of information and inspiration. The whole idea for my novel, Soul and Shadow, came about because of a patron's random comment. While attending the exhibit of ancient Egyptian artifacts (including a mummy) this lady gazed on the bandaged unknown and said, "That's why I'm being cremated!" Around that simple observation the whole story grew. And that woman will never know what her remark came to.
Sometimes a whole soap opera can be contained in one conversation. At lunch the other day, the couple at the next table were bemoaning (loudly) their daughter's decision to get married. It seemed that Sophie (not her real name) had passed up a nice young doctor ("Free medical care for life! Think of the prescriptions he could have written!") and chosen instead a mere psychologist ("Not even an MD! He'll be telling us everything we did wrong.") Poor Sophie had never had good judgement. She could have gone to Cornell, but she preferred a state college. Of course, with her condition, maybe that was just as well. I was mentally taking notes all the way through the meal. This was just too good to pass up! I'm already working on the short story.
So next time you're in a public place and pouring your heart out at the top of your voice-look over your shoulder. You never know who might be listening.