How Everyday Life Becomes Fodder for Writing

timeToday’s blog post almost didn’t happen. I just ran out of time. I always reserve my weekends for spending time with my family. But Sundays always play out pretty much the same way: get up, go to Mass, (if it’s football season, watch the Steelers), prepare my blog, make sure laundry is done, make sure homework is done, and just generally hang out with each other until we’re tired and go to bed (or in my case, until I go to bed, because it seems I’m always tired).

Yesterday’s schedule was completely busted from the very beginning. I should have known the night before that it was going to be an issue and just written the blog then.

My daughter has a career-prep class this term, so she has to job-shadow someone who works in a profession that interests her. She chose her tennis coach, because she thinks (this week) she might want to do that for a living. She had to spend the whole day on the court with him, so we had to go to an earlier Mass than we usually do. Fine. I rushed the whole household through their morning routines, and we made it out the door (late) and didn’t quite manage to feed the dogs. No problem, I thought. We were earlier than usual, so they could eat when we got home and they’d just be a little behind schedule.

We attended a different church than we usually do (because we needed a different Mass time) and got a long-winded priest. That also put us behind schedule. I didn’t mind that much, because his homily was actually quite good, but he ended Mass with a plea for us to return for an additional Mass that day to witness the Confirmation class receive their Sacrament. I love the Confirmation Mass, but, really? We snuck out during the recessional hymn. We had to get our daughter fed and to the court.

We figured a dash into Steak ‘n Shake would get us a quick breakfast and then we’d be on the road. Our Steak ‘n Shake is never crowded and always fast. We entered a time warp. The food just never came. My husband finally left and took my daughter—foodless—to the tennis court, while my son and I stayed at the restaurant and waited.

While my son and I were waiting, a girl he knew from school came in. They exchanged a few words and she and her family were seated by us. In fact, she and my son were back to back. They could have kept talking, but except to say how miserable they were, what would have been the point? She was probably eavesdropping on our conversation anyway. It had devolved into a ridiculous one about the merits of haircuts with the Flowbee®. We were laughing pretty hard when we started doing our own version of the infomercial. (We do things like that far too often when we’re bored.)

Our food finally came and my husband finally came back. All told, we were there for about ninety minutes. At a Steak n’ Shake! And we didn’t even get shakes. There’s something not right with that.

When we got home, we finally fed the poor dogs and I started laundry. We’re perpetually low on towels, especially now that we’ve opened the pool. Once I had that going, we went outside and began working on repairing our hot tub. I don’t know if the man in your house is successful at home repairs, but mine usually is. Of course, there could be parts left over afterward. And it usually takes twice as long as it should. But the end result is usually success, so I can’t complain. We spent most of the afternoon out there. It probably could have gone faster, but we had to keep dragging the dogs out of the pool and there was a chunk of time where we had to chase a frog so the dogs didn’t eat it. However, the end result is that the hot tub now works. Of course, I forgot to finish the laundry and the towels are wrinkled in the dryer. Which beats them being mildewed in the washer, I guess.

Around this time, I came in to get dinner ready and my husband went to get my daughter. After we all were gathered around the table and shared stories about tennis and the hot tub, there was the usual battle of kitchen chores and then the evening rush to gather items for Monday’s classes. My daughter will be starting high school tennis practices, so that required extra preparation on her part for some reason. I don’t miss being a teenager.

I went to bed exhausted. So did my husband.

I had completely forgotten about preparing my blog.

I opened my eyes this morning, not slowly with bleary dread but immediately with disbelief and panic. How could I have missed my blogging day?

So after my usual rush to get the kids to school and my husband off to work, I sat down to write this apology to you, and to turn it into something useful. The topic I had planned on writing could wait. This is more important.

Yesterday was one of those days that got away from me. We all have them. More than we’d like, I’m sure. So let’s mine them for the gold that they are and turn them into writing treasure.

  • There was a comedy of errors that made us late for Mass. There’s a story in what happened in my house before we even walked out the door.
  • A Mass (or any religious service) is a good topic for a story, if you can put a twist on it that hasn’t been done before.
  • Restaurants make excellent backdrops for stories (especially if you’re trapped in one because your ride left and you don’t have your wallet with you).
  • Home improvement stories can be humorous (they made a sitcom out of them, duh) or angst-ridden or convey any emotion you want.
  • Animals and swimming pools? Need I say more?
  • Family dinners? Need I say more?

So, there you go. I didn’t get my blog done yesterday, but I ended up with six writing prompts, probably more if I really massaged things a bit. For example, the girl my son bumped into at the restaurant could become a teen love story.

We’re surrounded everyday with writing prompts. We just need to take the time to look at them. What did you do yesterday that might make a good story? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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15 thoughts on “How Everyday Life Becomes Fodder for Writing

  1. Great post that almost wasn’t, Staci. It’s true that life itself is the inspiration and fodder for our writing. I go to the food court at the mall and eavesdrop when I need a bit of inspiration. And as always, my dear Pittsburgh native, Go Steelers!

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    • I don’t get the Pirate games, but I do subscribe to DirecTV’s Center Ice package so I can watch the Penguins (and of course the football package to watch the Steelers). I was watching the Pens last night. We were up two nothing when I forgot to keep switching back and forth. I got mesmerized by The Following.

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  2. I enjoyed your post and had to laugh. As you may know we’re downsizing and moving to a smaller house. So yesterday, as with several days a week, boxes were filled, marked and stacked for the move. I recalled a funny story about my childhood when my daughter unearthed one of those little folding cups from deep in some dark recess, and I told her the story so we had a good laugh while she continued to clean cabinets, filling two large boxes for a yard sale that looms in our future. I then vowed to begin to write down my stories as I recall them from items we dig out.

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    • You need to write them down before you forget them. I had a lot of stories on a laptop from when my kids were babies. The laptop crashed (pre-Carbonite) and I lost them all. As I remember them now, I tell my kids the stories and I type them up again. But I’m afraid some of the funniest things they did as infants will be forever lost to us. Good luck with your move, though. I’m afraid I still have boxes from five houses ago that I haven’t opened yet. We just move them house to house.

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  3. Yesterday I did nothing, absolutely nothing. I wanted to start on my homework or write a little but just couldn’t gather the energy to do so. 😦
    But your day sounds like many of mine and, after the fact, we can laugh about it. However, at the time, it can be a bit stressful.
    I love how you said your daughter wants to be a tennis coach (this week). My eldest son is twenty now and had a new career goal every week. The lists of things went on and one … but I think I was the same way in high school.
    Well, at least you found the positive in yesterday … writing ideas! 🙂 That’s always good.
    Great post.

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    • I have those nothing days, too (well, not as many as I’d like, in retrospect), but there’s something to be said for those, too. Jerry Seinfeld built a successful stand-up comedy career and a top-rated sit-com out of that very topic: nothing. There was probably more going on in your day than you realize, and if there truly wasn’t, just take it as a recharge day and attack today with vigor.

      As for our kids, well, they’ll eventually find their ways. We did, right?

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  4. Yesterday we cleared a path through the woods next to our house. As a story we could have found treasure, a body, or even a covered well which upon further inspection turned out to be a secret passage to a hidden world. We cleared our family room of furniture so I could clean the carpet today. As a story the carpet cleaner could have died of boredom, he could commit suicide, or discovered when his carpet gets wet it opens a portal into another time and place. Thanks, this is a pretty good exercise. 🙂

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  5. I share your anxiety. More often than not, I become distracted by something that needs to be done, rather than sitting down to work on my writing. However, what you say is very true, there is a story in everything, from early morning mishaps to a cross country move. The key is to be focused enough to share the story.

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