Story is not composed of the everyday routine happenings, but nearly every day there is a story that reveals itself to us. Every day contains a few minutes here or there where we experience something that should demand our creative attention. As writers we must, in the hustle-bustle of each day, train ourselves to recognize these things that cause us pause, and not simply treat them like mortal men and women do – respond or react and go on – but recognize these for what they are – fruit to be plucked – and write them, record them, prize them.
I was driving home from work one day and I noticed in the car behind me was a couple having an argument. Pretty soon I realized the male, who was driving, was physically abusing the female. Traffic was stopped and I saw all this happening right there in my rear view mirror. A traffic officer was directing us through an intersection so we were stop and go. Finally, when it came my turn I stopped in front of the cop and told him what was going on. He signaled the car to pull over and I went on home.
This image hit me viscerally. I wondered about the girl and if my alerting the police caused her further trouble. I thought about the cop who had to deal with yet another domestic disturbance. As you can see, in a few seconds a story spins out. Real event + imagined details = story.
But, shame on me. For this is the first time I’ve written about it. The first time I have captured its energy.