Mary S Palmer is the author of Time Will Tell, recently published by the speculative fiction imprint Urania. She has also co-written other books, such as To Catch a Fish with David Wilton, which is being re-released on June 1st. After a handful of emails, Mary gladly agreed to write a guest post for my blog. Thank you, Mary!
Don’t forget to check out my interview with Mary, asking her all sorts of writerly questions here.
The Underside of Writing
Little things count. They add up to big things. When something happens to me, or around me, I like to write it down as soon as possible; otherwise, the minute details escape and I can’t recapture them. I think of William Wordsworth and how he would leave the scene of an event and recollect it in a spot of tranquility, thus enhancing the experience and preserving it for future generations.
Oftentimes, such an experience doesn’t seem earth-shaking. Maybe it’s an everyday occurrence that wouldn’t interest anyone. What makes life interesting, though, is ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I never considered myself as one of those people. Whether this is true or untrue might bear consideration, depending on how a person views one brief moment in my life.
About ten years ago, I may have saved a child’s life. I was riding down a major highway at night and spotted a child in the middle of it. Cars were coming from all directions. Without thinking, I hopped out of the passenger’s seat of my car and snatched up the toddler. By then, the group of adults on the other side of a service road parallel to the highway ran out to find the child. He was safe. Rescuing him wasn’t a brave deed for me; I just acted instinctively. I never told anyone about this because it was years before I realized that he’d probably have been hit sooner or later if he’d stayed on that road much longer. I never knew the child’s name or anything about him. Still, I’ve often wondered what that child will grow up to be.
No matter. I fictionalized this incident and fit it into a sequel to TO CATCH A FISH, which is entitled BAITING THE HOOK. The underside of writing is to take such incidents, which may seem unimportant at the time, and incorporate them into a story.
Writing is like every other creative activity. Don’t make things harder than they are. As a horticulturist once told me about planning a garden: “Sometimes it’s just best to just improvise and use what you’ve got.”