One afternoon, while working at my computer, I glanced out the window to see a young couple walking along the sidewalk. The sidewalk is beyond my back garden, behind a row of evergreens.
I saw him sweep her into his arms, one under her knees, the other along her shoulders. He didn't just pick her up, he whooshed her up in one quick moment. She cradled her head against his forearm. Then he whirled around with her down the sidewalk. He was smiling and she was laughing. It was sweet. I stood from my chair and looked out. I thought, 'They must be so in love'. As a writer, these are the things I love to see. These are the kinds of things that I write down, and will put them in a novel. It isn't often you see this kind of affection out on a public sidewalk.
It got me thinking, how writers are observant people. Do you pick up on a conversation while in line at the grocery store, or what a client next to you at the hair salon is saying? Do you watch the body language of people? Do you observe the depressed housewife as she reaches for apples in the produce section? Or how about the anxious parent waiting outside the principle's office?
How about the homeless man sitting outside the Rescue Mission? How about the elderly couple taking a walk in the park, holding hands? How about the woman in the church pew praying, or the lonely teenager sitting outside on the front stoup?
I observe places much the same way. There's the old plantation house atop a hill, now surrounded by a Wal-mart and a shopping center, and a four-lane road. Every time I see it I wonder who the people were the built it? Who were the people that lived in it down the years, and what are their stories?
Then there are the rows of old brick townhouses in the historic district. How about the house that always has the blinds closed, the curtains drawn across the windows? How about the farm with horses in one meadow and black Angus in the other? How abandoned stone house or cabin way out in the countryside?
As a writer, or a reader, are you captivated by people and places? Do they spark your imagination and your desire to right or to read good fiction?