I’m three years into this writing experiment, taking lifelong work skill and squeezing it through a filter into the realm of fiction. Three years of constant writing and editing, combined with sharing a bit of what I have learned and know with others who harbour vague dreams of story writing.
I used to wonder what inspired someone to write a particular story or script. I still do, on an individual, story by story basis. What I know now is that inspirational sources are infinite, but there is one common element – it is our minds that get inspired.
I’ve seen GED students grouse over writing three quarters of a page on a topic assigned as part of the preparatory exam. My response to the complaint is to give example of the limitations we impose on ourselves when faced with an assigned topic. “Look around you,” I would tell them. “Everything you see, anything you see, can become a topic.” Eyebrows would raise and an air of scepticism hung over the room. Then I would give an example.
“See that floor tile?” I continued, pointing at an off white one foot square linoleum floor tile offset with light beige squiggles, the only hint of colour, save for the marks of age. “You should be able to write a story based on that floor tile. There is the obvious, what you see – its colour, shape, and construction.” Students get that part; after all, they –we – are visual creatures, and vision is a primary sense. The problem I aimed to overcome is how far any of them would go beyond that visual to the imagined. It was time to move them beyond the limiting boxes they reside in. “What about who made that tile? Who delivered it? Who put it down here? What has happened on top of it since it was first laid in place? In fact, what if someone got laid on top of the tile? What of that story?”
Eyes change with expressions, doubt now sparked with the key to another door. They would write new stories, and some, not all, but some, got the message I sent, to move beyond the obvious, to allow your imagination to wander far afield, untethered to the familiar or the expected or even the popular. Let your mind go, and do not be afraid to commit the wanderings to word.