Writers sometimes lament that they’ve run out of ideas, or can’t think of a story line for a particular character. If that sounds like you, all you need to do is look at the people around you.
Every person on earth has a story. Sometimes it’s all right there in the open where the person has laid it out for the world to look at. Sometimes the story is buried deep within that person’s psyche or soul.
We are all ships that pass in the night and we won’t ever know those other ships’ stories. Once in a while, though, we imagine what they are.
One summer afternoon, with all my windows wide open, I began hearing the strains of a song. I went to my window and listened to see where it was coming from. It was coming from around the block, seemingly not too far over from my backyard. It was very loud, but unlike most cases of loud music, this was not sounds of current tracks at the top of the Hit Parade. The notes were old, sad, and full of memories.
The instrumental was “The Anniversary Waltz,” and whoever was playing it must have really liked it because he or she played it over and over and over.
Who was that? And why were they playing such an old song, and so often?
I began creating a story in my head.
It was an elderly person who had lost their spouse, perhaps recently, and this day was their anniversary. They had danced to “The Anniversary Waltz” on their wedding day, and hearing it brought back the joyous memories of a long life with their loved one. Perhaps the person was sad and lonely now, and couldn’t stop playing the song that represented their lost happiness.
I pictured a thick, vinyl disc spinning on an old worn victrola, its horn perched up to an elderly person’s ear level, working hard to prove it could still make beautiful music. I wondered what the person was doing. Were they dancing? Could they even dance anymore? Were they just sitting in a chair, listening, staring dreamily at the wall? Maybe they were looking through photo albums, filled with images of men in uniforms, women in poofy A-line skirts and pearls, little boys in short pants, and girls in bobby socks and poodle skirts, leaning against enormous cars.
After a couple of hours, the music stopped. And I wondered what the person was doing now. Several options came to mind, and it brought tears to my eyes.
Sad story, right?
The truth is, I have absolutely no idea what the person who was playing that music was doing. It could have been some psycho who likes to cut himself to that song.
But maybe it happened just as I imagined it. The point is, there was a story there. Even psychos have stories. (In fact, psychos have fascinating stories. You may just not want to hear about them. )
So, in this time, when so many of us feel stuck, stunted, and stunned into silence, we can find things to write about. Where there are people, there are stories. Look around you. Stories abound. You just have to open your eyes. Or ears, as the case may be.