Thanks to construction, the traffic on the drive home last night was – well, to call it slow would be a understatment. As the bus idled on the far right lane of Hwy 7, a black car kept insisting its way through the very small sliver of space between the bus and the car in front of it. Perhaps it was a mistake; maybe the motorist misjudged their blind spot, which is a generous allowance given to the bumper-to-bumper situation. But even if it were possible, it wasn’t the case here: the driver knew what they were doing, and kept pushing their way into the teensy gap, quite aggressively so. Which was obviously a stupid enough move to begin with, regardless of the situation, but worse because traffic stopped and started without warning. It was not the time to change lanes.
But this individual was resolute. The car continued to force its way in front of the bus, ignoring the staccato honks of annoyance courtesy of the very angry bus driver’s fist. Even when they got longer, louder, more forceful and frequent by the second, the car did not stop until it had completed its purpose.
Well, the bus driver was just. Not. Having. It. At a red light, he leapt out of his seat and onto the street. He banged his fist against the passenger side window of the black car and began screaming at the driver. I didn’t get to hear what he’d said, only the parting shot: “Asshole!” Then he got back in the bus to an audience of stunned passengers, some with open mouths, others who laughed; someone even applauded, albeit briefly. And then all of us gathered hands and started singing “Did I ever tell you you’re my hero…”
Okay, so we didn’t. But the feeling was there.
Update: Got the same bus driver today (Sept 30). A truck failed to yield, so when they reached a stoplight, the bus driver opened his window to yell a sarcastic comment to the offender. Did I mistake his awesomeness for road rage?
I’m adding a new segment to this blog: Stranger Than Fiction, in which I post little real-life tidbits almost too funny to be true. I was inspired to write this after an incident that occurred while my mother and I were out for a walk earlier today.
We were crossing the street on a green when a car that was making a left turn decided that he had the right of way. But before he could make it, my mother and I were already in front of him, causing him to have to reverse slightly.
When we looked back to glare at him, he shook his finger like a windshield wiper as though we had been naughty children. I responded with a finger of my own, then turned my attention back to my mom. “Sorry – I was flipping him off.”
She responded: “So was I.”
If Chino was honest with himself, really honest, he would acknowledge that his outburst in the library wasn’t the first time he’d said a swear…at least out loud.
From now on, the general advice from this book (not a spark word or exercise) will be called Tip Off The Block. It’s kind of cheesy, yes, but a tad clever too if I do say so myself.
This advice ponders whether an author should outline their writing pieces. Rekulak gives examples of authors who can’t write without one; while there are others who don’t need one at all, such as Aldous Huxley, writer of Brave New World, which surprises me because everything in that novel seemed so well-planned. But then again, I read it back in high school so maybe a second look might change my mind. Huxley explains his process thusly: “I know very dimly when I start what’s going to happen. I just have a very general idea, and then the thing develops as I write.”
That pretty much describes my process when I do these exercises. I usually use the first idea that pops in my head, then write non-stop, not knowing in what direction I’m going. For example, in my opening lines story, the woman who wanted a refund was supposed to be a brief scene and the rest was going to be about Stacey’s co-worker, but apparently the woman is more stubborn than I intended, because she wouldn’t go away. And the story involving the images on a roll of film was supposed to end with the narrator seeing the pictures of all those women; we weren’t supposed to hear from the dirty hipster after the first scene. But he stuck. Even in my latest story about viruses, “Miley Virus” just popped into my head. And you know what? I’m glad they went the way they did, every one of them. It’s weird; while I’m the one writing, I sometimes feel that I don’t have control over where it’s going. But like I just said, that’s ok.
I used to always outline my stories, but would never finish those ones. I’d decided then that outlining was bad luck (as well as numbering my pages, back when I wrote with pen and paper) but now I think those were just excuses. That being said, it’s weird that I drew out those outlines because I had no respect for them. Even as a fifth grade I hated the plot graph: you know the one where it’s a straight line in the beginning, spikes to indicate the rising plot, and dips back down as the conflict is solved. For me that was much too formulaic and restricting a structure. At any rate, I have decided that I work better without outlines. A general idea is good enough for me.
If you’re suffering from writer’s block, try changing your approach. Make a detailed outline of the story – or plunge headfirst into the opening paragraph without any idea where’s you’re going. Either way, the change in routine may be surprisingly effective.
Okay. While writing that I just thought of how I can make this a writing exercise: I will make an outline for a story and write one, using the next exercise. Then I will write the same exercise without using an outline. So I will post both stories after I’m done with The Wrath of Don.