writing from life

March 18, 2009

From the Deborah Bouziden interview:

DB: In October, there was an incident involving a pair of hiking shoes. Writers know that everything that happens to them is fodder for the written page some day. Please relate the story and do you see it showing up in a book later down the road? Do you suggest writers keep a notebook/journal to record incidents like this? Why?

fair game for fiction
fair game for fiction


I won’t relate the story because it’s routine (I am routinely klutzy). It’s “dog bites man” rather than “man bites dog.” Digest version–slippery shoes+wet grass+dog tugging at lead=dislocated elbow. Now, the part that might be of use are the details a writer absorbs from incidents like this–the expression on a stranger’s face when he saw the grotesque angle of the arm. Pain so intense I thought the top of my head would come off. The stranger’s kindness and swiftness as he dialed 911, crated the dog, secured the house, found my purse and mobile phone…all the time keeping his eyes averted from the arm. My feeling of dismay as the EMT cut off my brand new, expensive Patagonia hoodie. The interesting apparatus filled with styrofoam beads, which they used to immobilize the arm. A busload of school kids on the ferry (had to take the ferry to the ER in Seattle), lining up to peer into the ambulance to see if there was any blood and guts. Little details, like the meth addict screaming obscenities. Oh, wait, that was me! The doc’s name: Milkman. A nurse rushing in, saying, “I have your diagnosis! #1, you have a severely dislocated elbow. #2, you’re famous, I love your books!”

A writer should pay attention when strange things happen. I wasn’t taking notes because it was my left arm and I’m left handed. Generally, if they’re dramatic enough, you remember the important bits. Some things, you don’t need a journal for.

How do you put life into your fiction?

  • OUCH!!! That is something you could seriously do without for the sake of material for a book. Answer honestly though, your imagination ran wild and had fun while the pain killers did their work!?

    I had a similar incident happen to me a few years back when I was eight months pregnant with my third child. I was wearing sandals (that advertised having the best traction) while walking a rambunctious dog and my ankle twisted right as the dog pulled, not a good mix! Needless to say, I bounced like a ball while getting my mouth full with dirt, yuck! When my husband saw me he almost fainted right there in the middle of the dog park while I laughed so hard people thought I had hit my head or was just plum crazy. These things you do not need to write down, how could you forget it!!!

  • Should have noted, this “picture book” would showcase footware safety 🙂

    Or it could just be a scary book for kids……..ha ! Obviously time to get back to work !!!


  • Seeing as I am working on storyboard concepts, I see those shoes could spawn a children’s picture book………seeing Barkis going to his crate with the helpful stranger……..looking back at you like “Mom, do you approve of this ???”…….the ferry ride in pain……..makes me cringe all over again.

    That shoe company ever even acknowledge your letter ??? Hope so, it would only have been the right thing to do.

    Have a nice day ! Blue skies here !


  • Hm. You blogged about this incident (with help from uninjured people) soon after it happened. I guess, in a way, those blogs serve as journal entries.

    I should take more notes. Although I think my life is incredibly dull, when I put bits of it into my stories, people are highly amused by it!

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