Sunday, August 29, 2010

Let's bypass that question and get to the heart of the humor

So, is wrong that even at the height of my worry during my father-in-law's recent triple bypass adventure I was mentally taking notes, in case I ever need the details for a book?

Sheesh. Writers are a ruthless bunch.

It's not that we don't care. And we're not really clinically detached (well, not me, anyway--guess I can't speak for all writers). But some small part of a writer's brain is always "on," I think. Always exploring possibilities, always picturing characters in real life situations.

For instance, when the fifth hospital denizen came into the room where my FIL was being readied for surgery, and asked the same set of questions four other nurses, techs, and doctors had already asked, I couldn't help but see the potential humor in the situation.

Now, each of them was very polite, and apologized for the redundancy, explaining how it prevented hospital errors. I suspect it's also a way to judge the patient's overall mental state. If you can't tell them your name, birth date, and what kind of surgery you're in for, they might start to wonder if you're having a bad reaction to the sedatives.

But by the fifth round of "and why are you here today?" I was picturing my MC's great-uncle in that bed, getting grilled by the doc before bypass surgery, and answering "Boob job. Double-Ds, please." I could see the whole scene in my mind's eye, from the glint in her Uncle Jack's eye to the shock on the doc's face.

And to think, until that moment I didn't even know my MC had an uncle Jack.

[BTW, that's what I plan to tell the hospital grillers, if I'm ever in the same situation myself. Who knows? I could go in with a chest that's killing me, and come out with one that's to die for. ;) ]

Question for the writers out there: What's the oddest moment your muse has ever intruded into your real life with an idea?

P.S. I'm experimenting with a new font. Easier to read? Or is the old "Times" I was using before better for you?


Unknown said...

Five years ago I had a pretty bad car accident--a head-on collision. Some idiot crossed the double yellow and slammed me on a bright, sunny fall day. Before impact I thought about my family. After impact, when I realized I was alive and able to move, (thank you, Ford) I thought about being able to describe how an airbag sounded when it went off. I could describe the smell in the car. It was weird and it only lasted a few seconds until someone was at my car trying to help me get out of my crushed mini-van.

I wrote it all down the next day and saved the file. I haven't used it yet, but I will.

I was pretty banged up from the accident including a knee that took years to be right.

Oh, there was one other thing I remember about the accident--I looked at the other car and I thought the guy was dead. Yes, it was hit fault, but the thought that he was dead completely freaked me out. When I heard him scream because of his injuries, I knew he was alive and I knew what it meant to say "Thank God" and really, really mean it.

Trisha Leigh said...

I do this all the time, and then wonder about myself. I just spent a couple of days with my mother's family in small town (Wilton) Iowa. The characters in the random crowd at my dad's concert were making me grin about every 3 seconds.

And that's without even speaking to the oddities in my own extended family up there.

It was great. I think what's hard is keeping my mind engaged in the moment more than it wanders over the potentials. Great post. Hope your FIL continues to do well.

Word verification- bonic. I suggest it is a combination of the words 'boner' and 'tonic'. Let your mind go with that one.

Jessica Lemmon said...

HA! This happened to me yesterday when my well-meaning dog (Doodle aka Daisy) launched herself from the sofa and bashed me in the eye with her hard little skull.

Amidst the pain, the not-so-choice words I uttered and lying there with a bag of peas on my eye, I thought, "Well at least if I have a black eye I'll know how to write about what one looks and feels like."

Writers! Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

I've got a friend right now who is experiencing one of those wonderful "when it rains it pours" moments.

Her drug addicted sister just signed her baby over to the state, and yet blames my friend. The sister showed up at my friends first real job out of school (police department) to yell and scream at her. The sister was picked up on Friday, because she was standing on the highway (in front of my friends house) stopping traffic and yelling about how she's going to kill my friend. Their grandmother who raised them and is practically my friend's mother passed away yesterday and in the midst of all this.... she's suppose to get married this Thursday. Oh and did I mention the apartment they wanted didn't work out so they'll be living with the in-laws for a while.

And all this time I've been thinking. Just how believable would this be in a book? And then I had guilt. Lots and lots of guilt.

Steph Schmidt said...

I had a strange reverse case of I wrote it in my manuscript then it actually happened in my life. Made me rewrite a lot of what the character felt because whoa did I ever get it wrong.

New font works just fine as did the old one.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

The one time I was in a car accident that was bad enough to call an ambulance, I shattered the windshield with my head. Luckily, I had a second or two to think about what was about to happen, and I decided to hook my knee under the dashboard and cover my head with my hands (I was the passenger). I ended up with a tiny scar on my finger, a bruise on my knee, some shaky shock-like symptoms, and afterwards, a headache. However, the headache was not from the accident. The headache was from being loaded into the ambulance. They strap you down so tight that you can't so much as flinch, and when the EMT leaned over to check one last strap above my head, he leaned over just far enough that the cell phone that was in his chest pocket slid out and smacked me in the head. Yes, I saw it coming. Yes, I had a chance to shout something, which I did. No, I had no chance to move and avoid it. Lovely, right? Well, it gets better. He apologized profusely, put the phone back in his pocket, and finished checking the straps. What did this result in? Oh, yes. THE STUPID PHONE FELL OUT AND HIT ME IN THE HEAD YET AGAIN.

And that's how I ended up with the bruise on my forehead after shattering a windshield with my face. Ridiculous, right? I considered putting it in a book, but then realized that it was completely dumb and precisely the sort of thing that only happens in real life because people don't believe stuff like that in fiction.


LOL, I spent eight years in the marketing department of a large medical center, and we used to have to stage photos for a variety of promo purposes. Once, I hired a photographer to get some SERIOUS shots to use for some ads for end-of-life care. I recruited two nurses to be in the photo -- one to act as a nurse, and the other to play the patient. We instructed them to "look somber, and speak naturally."

They looked somber all right, but their entire conversation revolved around the boob job our fake patient pretended she was getting to improve her quality of life in her final days before death.

Suffice it to say, we were all on the floor laughing.


Linda G. said...

Jeannie -- Oh, my gosh! Scary. I'm so glad you're all right, and the other guy wasn't killed. Your "writer brain" must be strong to be able to function under those conditions.

Trisha -- *spews beverage* "Bonic"? Ha! Yup, you are my kind of writer. ;)

Jessica -- Ouch! Yeah, you have "writer brain" too.

Posey -- Ugh. My sympathies to your friend. But don't feel guilty for your writer-ly reaction. Apparently it's a reflex with our kind. :)

SM -- Ack! Unintentional after-the-fact research. Oh, well...better late than never, right? And now you know you have your deets right. :)

Elizabeth -- *stifles inappropriate laughter* Sorry, but twice? That is like a bad sitcom! So glad you weren't permanently damaged by your unexpected introduction to the windshield, OR the cell phone.

Tawns - ROF,L! How on earth any of you could hold it together long enough to finish the shoot is beyond me.

Michele Shaw said...

I would say some part of my day (every single day) has the potential to wind up in a story. You're right, we can't turn it off! I was thinking about the surgery question and remember being asked in a different way. The nurse didn't say, "Tell me why you're here." She said, "Do you know why you're here?" To which I replied, "Yes." The other nurses and dr's thought it was hysterical.

Elizabeth Ryann said...

Tell me about it! A seriously terrible sitcom. :) And I like your new font, though I had no trouble with the old one.

My verification word is whorgid. I'm assuming this is a mashup of whore and turgid, because those two words WOULD come together. Yep, I somehow made that even dirtier, and I'm leaving it. You're welcome.

Sierra Godfrey said...

I think any ridiculous situation or one where I'm thinking "you've got to be kidding me" starts sounding like it might make it in a future book.

Last year I had jury duty and the defendant acted as his own lawyer. He was so inappropriate and so bad that the asst. DA lawyer kept calling "Objection! Defendant can't ask that" -- and this was all during jury selection. The Asst. DA lawyer was beautiful and svelte in all the ways I could never be, and I thought "Man she knows her stuff" but then she screwed up too and the judge called both of them in the back room to give them a stern talking to. I was ultimately dismissed, but I did use the scene for a story.

Unknown said...

My writer brain is strong and operates in crisis and other situations...I had lunch with one of my local chapter friends today and we decided to share a dessert. We each took a bite and said, "this is book worthy." The restaurant called it Chocolate Decadence. I would call it "Sex on a Plate."

abby mumford said...

i like uncle jack.

and i think having writer brain is a wonderful side effect of this job. some people take trips to italy for work. some people tour wineries. some people sail boats. some people can filter through the shenanigans of everyday life and turn it into a scene in a book.

i like the last side effect the most (while traveling to italy and touring vineyards, of course).

demery said...

I like Uncle Jack too!

Since I started my new blog - which is a photo writing prompt blog - I'm now doing the crazy writing things but with photos. I need a new photo every day - which can be a lot! I find myself trying to discreetly pull out my camera in some odd places, wondering if anyone will mind or notice (or care) if I take a pic. The other day I was in the grocery store taking pictures of radishes. Got a few strange looks. But it's kind of fun be weird sometimes, especially for the sake of ART.

Linda G. said...

Michele -- LOL! Hey, you answered the question clearly and concisely. What more could they ask? ;)

Elizabeth -- Whorgid? ROF,L! I love it. I think it's dictionary worthy.

Sierra -- All right! Finally one that actually made it to a book. Good for you! :)

Jeannie -- LOVE "Sex on a Plate"! That MUST wind up in a book. ;)

Abby -- *sighs* Traveling to Italy and touring vineyards sounds pretty darn good to me.

Demery -- Good! Because he's starting to poke into my writer-ly consciousness, demanding to be heard. Re pics: I so wished I had a camera with me at the post office today. Therer were two little kids hiding in the nook under the counter with all the mailing forms. They looked like they were having so much fun hiding from the adults--I wanted to capture the moment.

Bess Weatherby said...

The worst is definitely when my muse goes Dionysus on me and hits me at a bar. It happens far too often. I'm sorry. Drunks are always good material.

Thank goodness I have a writing program on my phone, or I would get a lot of weird looks!

Kelly Breakey said...

For me it was a funeral. You know how you think people are supposed to act and I have seen funerals like this on TV, but when my husbands great Aunt died and we went to her funeral, I was amazing and awed at the amount of screeching, wheeping, wheezing, Amening and people who threw themselves across the casket as they made their way up to say their final goodbyes.

In an aside, I was the only person there who was blown away by the display that I witnessed, which weirded me out even more. But I got some great stuff for a book.

Linda G. said...

Bess -- Love the phrase "goes Dionysus on me"! So true--lot's of good material there.

Kelly -- Funerals are the worst for inappropriate mental intrusions, and that one sounds like it was a doozie. But at least you didn't crack, did you?