Writers are disgustingly cannibalistic creatures. They they are – smiling and nodding – as you tell them about the sad story of your woes, or the incredible night of sex you had with a complete stranger, or that weird thing that happened to you at the post office the other day. But do you know what they are REALLY doing? Do you?
They are taking mental notes and filing them in their warren-like brains. One day, your embarrassing incident at the gynecologist will turn up in one of their stories. You can only hope that they change your name and make you completely unrecognizable to your mutual friends.
I’m not innocent of this. In fact, I do it all the time. A friend recently was telling me and a group of co-workers a funny story about an incident during his military career. It was such a good story that I immediately told him I was stealing it for one of my novels. He was immensely flattered until my female co-worker shrieked that the character would have to look like Denzell Washington in order for the scene to truly pack a punch. She was right. The scene is filed and tagged right here in my noodle, waiting for when I need it.
Heck, one time I took a friend and dumped her right into the beginning of a novel. Her snippy remarks, her sense of humor, the way she took her coffee – everything. I didn’t/couldn’t even the change her perfect name. Of course, I had to get her permission for that one, but she’s a good sort and told me it was OK.
I’ve even taken to giving people fair warning about my proclivities. Everything my friends do and say are grist for the writer’s mill. I don’t know how they stand me. Or why they keep telling me stuff. But they do. And I’m thankful for them.