When you’re lying flat on your back on a stretcher in the hospital foyer because the emergency room is crowded, there are a few things you can do: feel sick, wait for the doctor, wait for pain killers, wait for the illness, whatever it is, to cause you to take your last breath; wait for death. If, on the other hand, you are a writer, and you are anything like me, you look around you, and between unbelievable pangs of pain attacking your body, you draw inspiration and material from life for what you can write your next story about viewing the people around you as potential characters.
The inspiration writers draw from life is endless. Birthdays, anniversaries, divorce parties, (so I hear), weddings, and conjugal visits – can’t say I’ve been there, but that would be a story on its own, the list goes on.
I am behind in reading literature that touches on human mortality, but one of my favorite books that touches on this subject is, One True Thing, by Anna Quindlen. I love prose that reflects on and stretches our limitations as humans through the power of words, where the protagonist finds themselves in life threatening circumstances that are beyond their control and we read on with the hope that they rise above and life resumes some sort of ‘normalcy’, so we can have our happy ending.
On the stretcher, I hear worried family members’ and friends arriving to see their loved ones. The looks on the faces of the people in the stretchers, somber, in excruciating pain, old, lonely, overweight, irritable, concerned, disconcerting, disagreeable, a symphony of adjectives come to mind. And then I am back to reality, on the stretcher, in pain and still waiting to be seen.
No matter where we are in life and no matter what we are doing, we can tell our stories. Whether we write them for ourselves and they sit on a high shelf tucked away in a shoe box, or we brave the endless parade of rejection letters and celebrate with twenty- why not thirty? copies of our finally published prose, our lives are stories waiting to be told.
Has anyone ever told you that you are not a writer? Do you wonder if you have what it takes to write? The next time you find yourself with some free time, reflect on your day and ask yourself; what part of this would I share with the word if my name were (insert pen name or nickname here). Now go write it.
Now that you’re back, how’d that writing exercise work for you? As for me reality hits, the hospital registration went smoothly, the doctor has kindly prescribed the necessary medications, and three days later I am sitting here encouraging you to remember no matter where you are and (barring a few things) no matter what you are doing, you can always make time to write and draw inspiration from life. This blog came to me shortly after I arrived at the hospital. A tip: Don’t use peoples’ real names and where possible change their age, sex and identity.) But, that’s another blog. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this blog and your thoughts on writing, too.
*Previously Published in The Ink Never Runs Out