Monday, May 18, 2009

A Case of Writer's Curiosity

My life has a new routine - showing up five days a week for a quick, painless medical treatment. After sitting for weeks in a waiting room with many of the same people, I've developed a new condition, a case of writer's curiosity. What works together to activate this syndrome? Eyes. Ears. Imagination.

One patient is the slim, handsome, European-looking man wearing expensive Italian shoes who is always accompanied by at least two women. His wife is pretty and expertly made-up, but ruins her image by cramming an over-sized rear end into tight jeans. Bummer. The older woman, probably his mother, is slender, well-preserved, and clanks with ornate silver and gold jewelry. Some days he also escorts a 30ish woman who often dresses in bold colors - a purple jacket, patterned red pants, and an orange shirt. A sister? A daughter? The family always sits together and talks quietly in what sounds like Portuguese. As they enter and leave, he always holds the door only for the older woman. Do they all come every day because they love this man so much? Or is it an ingrained sense of family duty?

Observing the mother-daughter twosome is painful. Mother (the patient) is confused about small things, asks the same questions over and over, and obsessively picks at her buttons, rings, or thinning hair. The daughter shows patience in her conversation, but her tight body language screams frustration. Do they live together? Is this daughter the sole caregiver? What's the relationship like when they're not in public?

One day I sit near the office window. Nurse One is telling how she lays down the law to her ten-year-old daughter.
Nurse Two advises, "Do it now, because the day will come when she won't listen. You won't be the boss anymore."
Nurse One declares, "That day will never come. She'll listen and I'll ALWAYS be the boss."
How soon will she be proven wrong? Will there be an explosive YA scene someday?

Back stories. Real time stories. Future stories. Writer in the waiting room. Eyes. Ears. Imagination.


  1. How clever of you to use such "down" time for something creative and imaginative! People watching is one of my favorite pastimes.

  2. People watching and people listening. It's not always easy to watch, but it's really easy to listen and look the other way!

  3. I have always enjoyed observing people. I used to go to pubs in my younger days and write about the people I saw and make up stories about their lives.

  4. Maybe someone is watching and writing about you...

  5. Not surprised to know other writers have the people watching syndrome and yes, Valerie, it did give me a giggle one day to realize there might be another writer in the room observing me!

  6. Great descriptions. I'd love to know who that handsome, European man is. I'm intrigued.

  7. I find myself wondering about strangers and thinking up stories for them too. It's fun and it helps pass the time! :0)

  8. Whenever I feel bad about eavesdropping, I remind myself it comes with the territory of being a writer. Now I know why there's always that disclaimer in the beginning of a novel basically saying, look, yes, I MAY have lifted a few real personality traits and physical quirks but I swear it's not you!