Monday, August 01, 2005

Conference Sidebar

I guess I’ve just about had it with conference workshops. Reno was my fourth and, outside of a nugget here and there, the new info was scarce.

So, what’s a girl to do?

Observe, that’s what.

So, there I was, all buckled into my seat, ready to depart Reno for Burbank. After profiling the foreigner next to me (and checking for protruding wires from his shoes), I shifted my attention to the tarmac where one last guy, wearing one of those silly neon vests, tossed (and I do mean TOSSED) luggage onto a conveyor belt.

Talk about profiling. The writer in me made up a life for this big brawny male I dubbed "Chuck." I pictured him at night, haunting the local pool hall, dressed in faded jeans, a wife-beater t-shirt, and an expression that broadcast how much he hated his life. He’d chain smoke Marlboro reds, slug back Coors from a bottle, and call women “babe,” “sugar,” and “sweetheart.” He’d growl more often than he’d smile, and on the rare occasion he lost a round of pool, the bar would grow ominously silent.

Yep, I had Chuck all figured out, I decided.

Then, something strange happened. A cluster of pigeons collected around Chuck’s feet and I thought, what the hell? What would attract birds to the middle of the tarmac on a hot Reno day?

No, no...say it ain’t so, Chuck.

His hand dipped in his pocket, then scattered something on the ground, and even from my odd vantage point from inside the plane, I could almost hear the pigeons coo with glee.

Yep, my rough, tough, mad-at-the-world Chuck was feeding pigeons.

And because of the life I’d created for him, the action was extraordinarily touching.

So, there I was, courtesy of Southwest Airlines (and Chuck), learning a writing tip. Somewhere, sometime, I’m gonna create a character who has no visible redeeming qualities...with the exception that he's always got a pocketful of birdseed for his feathered friends.


Anonymous said...

Commonly called don't judge a book
by it's cover.


John said...

Wasn't this guy throwing your luggage? And feeding the pigeons at an airport? Probaby an authority definance thing.

I'm judging a book by what you read on the cover. Really, really, uncool.

Ms. Mika said...

As I read your "story", I was pulled in to a writer’s world...a world where I live...I'm a writer too. "Chuck" was a character that Randy created based on the vision set before her...was she "judging a book by its cover"? No, she was writing a story befitting said cover.

We do it everyday--all of us! But the difference when a writer does one gets hurt; because most often, it’s a figment of our imaginations!

So to Randy I say, “Great story, can't wait to read more!”

randy said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for "GETTING IT."

Geesh, guys (the first two comments were written by men)--Chuck was a pretend guy--someone I made up to entertain myself while waiting for the plane to take off. I'm not so dense as to believe every baggage handler is a beer swizzling womanizer.

It's called imagination! It's called creating a character!

Thanks Mrs. Mika for coming to my defense!

John said...

A character that breaks luggage and defies authority.

As Chuck threw anothe bag at the cart, he dropped some crumbs for a flock a pigeons huddled nearby. Dub, his baggage throwing sidekick, asked him one day, "Why the nice guy pigeon feeder thing? We are supposed to be breaking luggage." "Duh, Dub. What do pigeons do while they eat? Where does the boss step when he comes through that door? I'm multi-tasking."

There, character development based on my imagination of Randy's imagination.

Vonda said...

LOL! Hilarious! I agree, Randy. And that was a great writing exercise. Beautifully written, too! Most writers are people watchers, don't you think? I people watch without intending to and usually we're picking up on things we see (little clues) and expanding on them, wondering what a certain person's life is like. We can't know without asking them so our imagination fills in some details. What you have there is perfect for a villian type (or a mean exboyfriend/boss). :-) He does all these bad things but he does one good thing. That makes him real and human.