I had a friend named Warren, who was a lot of fun. We would meet after class at the cafeteria, drive out to the lake and take out the sailboat. We would sail from one end to the other and drink a few beers. We were purist then and didn’t have an outboard engine, so we would sail out and drift back in.
He liked it when I told him stories, but he only wanted to hear the ones with Johana Reis and Naiomy Sims. I worked as a bartender/server at a show bar and had seen all kinds of funny things happen—especially during pageants. As a waiter, you are everywhere.
I eventually ran out of stories about them. I didn’t want to repeat the same ones, so I replaced Sweet Savage and Lindsy Love with Johanna and Naomy, added Hot Chocolate to the mix, and with a recast repertoire of stories, we laughed twice as hard that afternoon while sailing on the lake.
Warren continues to be a source of inspiration. When I remember his voice, it brings back his humorous view of the world and his bold gusto for enjoyment. The thing was, he’d heard the original version, and I could tell he liked the remake better.
Recasting the memories was not hard. I had been during conversations changing the gender of the people in my life. Sometimes I had to rethink the question. The typical opening at the beginning of anything social was, “do you have a girlfriend.” I took it as, “are you single?” and said “no. I am not available.” I didn’t want to deceive or be a liar. The same thing goes for the characters in your writing. Read the words out loud, picture the villain or hero repeating the dialogue, and hear if it fits. How does it taste? Often the lead or main character in my stories wouldn’t say the one-liners I come up with, but if I stand in the other character’s shoes and try the dialogue, it feels better. I am rarely the protagonist in my stories. I suppose I am like Hitchcock and make cameos.
Learning is your ability, and it can become your most precious talent. Something you are good at doing. I chose to study physics because I could do it. I couldn’t draw accurately nor write a decent paragraph. But I could follow science’s logic, and I learned the language of mathematics. I could grasp the concept of electromagnetic fields, define them, and theoretically manipulate them expressing it with precise language. I could do it in both Linear Algebra and Calculus.
I learned to prove algebraic theorems following the same strict logic, which gave me the structure to follow when storytelling. In narrating, I am demonstrating a theorem. I am making my point. I have loved to write stories for as far as I can remember. The word-choice in creative writing is an art. You can pull them out of your sleeve. There are many ways to tell a tale, but the structure is the same. “If, then.” I feel most events are best narrated as a choice. Life is full of options.
I often recommend keeping a diary or journal. I believe written contemporaneous notes are essential for any project. The idea that you are writing something no one else will read opens the door to leaving significant personal cues for future writing. Set a goal for 300 words stream of consciousness every morning or evening and see how it feels.
Cheers and best wishes