Monday, June 21, 2010

Finding a story

Yesterday was Father's Day and while walking to dinner with my precious girls my older daughter found something on the sidewalk. It was an unopened greeting card envelope with the word 'Dad' scrawled on it in kid's writing. Obviously it had been dropped on the way to a Father's Day dinner and now some Dad would never get his card and some kid probably drew a picture inside or signed their name and would miss out on Dad's reaction to it.
It was simultaneously one of the saddest things and more intriguing things I'd seen in a long time.
It got me thinking how those tiny incidents in ordinary life can be filed away for use in a story. Sometimes something we see or hear is the basis for an entire tale or sometimes it is just a little detail that can crop up inside a larger piece.
At the risk of sounding like the weird neighbor kid in American Beauty, I love the little details of life that happen in the margins. Stories are all around us waiting to be discovered. It's why I love Found magazine (and I even had the chance to be a contributor once) it's why I have a bunch of old flea market photos from the 20's and 30's of people I don't know.
Will I use a lost Father's Day card in a story? Maybe. Either way it is a great reminder of the inspiration that surrounds us and the billions of stories to tell.
As cynical and I can be in my belief that the human race is generally fairly despicable I maintain a very bright outlook on life by an endless fascination with the world and by seeing beauty in all things even, as Thelonious Monk said, ugly beauty.
I'll go to another music reference and quote a lyric from one of my favorite songs from a great band, Chavez. About as far on the sonic scale as you can get from Monk but still. In their song 'Unreal is here' the chorus repeats, "There is nothing to not be amazed at."
I agree.


David Barber said...

Great post, Eric. I love things like that, finding something that you really shouldn't, old photo's...they're are inspiring to say the least. Thanks for the YouTube link as well. They are fine words indeed.

Belated Father's Day wishes from one dad to another.

Who Is Afraid of Alfred Hitchcock? said...

Hi! Eric Beetner,
Great post...I enjoyed reading the story/post. Well, did your daughter give the Father's Day card to you?

By the way, I never noticed just how "busy" authors are not until I "stepped" into your world.
Thanks, for sharing the link and Happy "belated" Father's Day!

DeeDee ;-D

Michael Solender said...

this concept of life on the margins is so intriguing because that is so much of the very real living happens. not in bed, not 9-5 at work, or on the freeway, but in those smaller more intimate moments. what great stories could come from that one undelivered card. very cool that you riffed on it in such a way that really inspired me...

pattinase (abbott) said...

My library is displaying items found in returned books. A wealth of stories in that display case.

Eric Beetner said...

That sounds fantastic, Patti. What a great idea. I'm sure they've had some doozies over the years.

Michael - Glad you see the same things I do in the small moments

DeeDee - We left the card propped up more prominently so hopefully the owner could find it later.

David - a happy Father's Day to you!