Last Friday night my dulcimer band and I were sitting outside in the freezing cold playing for a Main Street Christmas festival in Boerne, Texas. As we coped with howling wind, numb fingers, and instruments out of tune because of the cold, a part of me was joyfully making music, a bigger part of me was thinking we were every kind of fool for playing outside in sub-freezing weather, and a small part of me was wondering how to incorporate this life experience into a book someday-how to use this fun-but-miserable evening in the telling of a story.
I do that a lot. It doesn’t seem to matter where I am or what I’m doing, I’m constantly wondering, at least on a subconscious level, ‘Would this be good in a story?” I guess it’s the lot of a writer to view life through a story-telling lens, because in my experience the best stories do come from life. We writers are notoriously frequent travelers, because it’s hard to write about a place we have never seen. We are also apt to jump in and try things we might like to write about. (For the book I am currently writing, I went into a soap maker’s kitchen and learned to make soap-not something I would have done ever done otherwise.) And we are not shy about talking, talking, talking to anyone and everyone around us, because we never know who or what will spark that next wonderful idea for a story.