This week I decided to go somewhere that isn’t too unusual or exotic. You might go there yourself this week. The destination was ordinary, but the experience was most definitely not usual.
Write Anywhere #25: The Mall
I am not a recreational shopper. I don’t really like crowds. But there’s one benefit of the mall for me. People watching. This visit I walked past a flock of skinny-jeaned young moms pushing strollers, senior power walkers, and a herd of young teens thundering towards the Apple store.
The food court offered a wonderful chance to hear bits of dialogue in more languages than I understand. And the best study of all was the uncomfortable feeling that tried to bloom into paranoia when I realized someone was watching me. A middle-aged man sat at a table directly in front of me. I looked at him and he stared back, never blinking. He watched me write and eat my food court Indian meal. He wasn’t eating, or watching the music videos on the big screen tvs, or watching anyone else. I thought maybe I smeared the palak paneer on my face or that he was having a bad day. This went on for twenty minutes. He also had an uncanny resemblance to a famous serial killer.
Don’t worry, my imagination magnified it all, but it was unnerving nonetheless. If I want to write about a creepy incident, I might have a little fuel for some ideas. Every writer should be a professional people watcher. People-watching can give you bits and pieces that can spark an idea that will grow into a poem, story or maybe the Great American Novel. Looking for those bits and pieces that become ideas is what Twyla Thorp, in her book ‘The Creative Habit’ calls “scratching”:
“You can’t just dance or paint or write or sculpt. Those are just verbs. You need a tangible idea to get you going. The idea, however miniscule, is what turns the verb into a noun – paint into a painting, sculpt into a sculpture, write into writing, dance into a dance.” – Twyla Thorp, The Creative Habit
Even though Tharpe is a choreographer, it’s not a dance book. She covers universal themes relative to all creatives. I’m in the midst of her book, and it’s really inspiring. I highly recommend it.
Where did you write this week?