I approached a jewelry counter and the upset clerk told me that her children call her a kook and asked me if there was anything wrong with that. I said to her, "Well, that depends. Are you a good kook or a bad kook?"
Her face grew into a smile. "A good kook," she grinned.
One of the shocking things two writers said in a small group of us happened the other day while I was traveling out of state. Sometimes keeping my jaw tight during conversations is a good choice. Why? Because I wouldn't want to insult anyone. I want to get to know people and by reacting at what they say, they might feel uncomfortable and stop sharing, so I kept quiet. Besides, some people say strange things. For writers, listening is research.
Here's what happened. Writer Julian (not their actual name) said, "I've always heard voices in my head."
I didn't say, "That's crazy!"? This is where I waited for further explanation. Maybe they're describing a character... No...They said they might as well write down what the voices are saying. I agree. I'd want to keep track if I had that happening to me. Especially if one of them had the winning Powerball numbers.
Maybe they can easily create characters. Of course, it depends on what level of crazy their voices talk. Maybe they ramble, but listen to what they're saying. Maybe it's in-depth backstory that will develop characters. I didn't ask them what types of personalities their voices have. (Head scratching).
No one questioned them as to what possible medication they were taking. However, another writer pitched in saying, "The same thing happens to me and I want to let the voices out, and I do so by writing." (Paraphrasing).
I'm now realizing that reclusive writers probably aren't reclusive at all. Maybe they have voices keeping them company.
Okay, I'll admit my neck and shoulders were a bit stiff by this point, but I was intrigued, so I kept my mouth closed. My mind went to creative thoughts of maybe those were fun voices telling them to spray unwrapped gumballs onto a slippery waterslide while riders watch colored polka dots appear on their bathing suits or a tie dye design when they got to the end of their ride. One slider discovers the person in front of them now has a smiley face on their bathing suit bottoms when they stand up. A group of bystanders rip into laughter and a few of them shout while pointing at the bathing suits they want from the gumball styles. There's a booth restocking the last of over 600 pieces of Gumball Wear that's almost sold out.
But then I put a mysterious twist into the story of thoughts that interrupted me while listening to the writer speak. Little do excited shoppers realize what the chemicals in the water used to create this swimwear are going to do to anyone who comes in contact with them after twenty days.
My focus goes back to the writers I'm sitting down with. I share one feeling of what being a writer is like. "For me being creative is like having two brains, one for reality and one for writing fiction because it pops into my head and I don't necessarily have an idea of where it's going to end up," I say.
When doing research for your writing, it's good to keep an open mind. I was still waiting for further explanation from the writers. Judging can and will make you lose out on a lot of creative writing. The writers didn't go any deeper and they didn't say they were kidding. Did they scare me? No, because there was no mention of the voices bickering in their head. I feel sorry for anyone who has voices in their head arguing with each other over Trump and Clinton.
I've learned to be a better listener, not judge and wait for my turn speaking, unless you ask my brother. He might have a different opinion. It was hard to change after being taught as a child to jump into a conversation so I could get heard. You'd be surprised at how much better you can create characters by listening to a person. I'm not suggesting to look up any kooks and invite them to coffee.
My mystery, psychological thriller Fortier Series' books are about the wealthy dysfunctional Fortier family from Connecticut.
R.J. Grand is the author of THE PAINTING OF DECEIT and ON THE INSIDE. The third book of the Fortier Series COMPO COVE is due out March 2017.
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