Drawing from the Darker Side of Life…


(this is my trying to be brave face)

To continue with what I was saying in my last post, this whole experience has been quite an eye-opening journey. For instance, trying to almost constantly adjust to dealing with my current circumstances while doing what was once ordinary tasks for me.

Now as I said in my last post, I am still generating loads of new story ideas. It's just being able to sit comfortably enough to be able to really flesh them out takes more out of me than it used to. And believe me, I'm getting so many thoughts and ideas, since this journey began. 

  

Take a recent outing I had to go on namely grocery shopping. I went to a Safeway that I knew would have the electric shopping carts to make getting around easier (because I was really feeling tired and sore). Normally, I'd do a curbside pickup, but I wanted to actually go in myself and try one of those carts in order to see if it would give me a little more freedom to get around once in a while.

I found the cart easily enough and settled in, then began familiarizing myself with the controls. Overall, it was quite simple, and I was soon under way. But the first thing I noticed was everything around me was a at a very different level than I was used to. You see, I'm 5' 8", but now I was at an eye level of about 4' give or take an inch. Now I was seeing all the shelves I'd be looking down at were almost at eye level, which kind of threw me. In fact, it kind of made me think back to when I was a kid when everything, including grown-ups, seemed to loom over me. Still, I pressed on and tried to focus on my shopping list.


The next thing I encountered was the obstacles of some aisles, such as employees restocking shelves. Normally I would simply just squeeze through by adjusting my body. But I couldn't in this case. Instead, I had to kind of park the cart, and get off my ride to grab what I needed. Then I'd settle back in and continue my 'shopping'. However, now I was starting to be a little more choosy about which aisles I would go down. At the same time, I was also still trying to learn just how maneuverable my cart was or wasn't at different times. But overall, once I got more used to the device, I found it was quite responsive and easy to drive.

Quite frankly after a while it felt like I was driving a mini car which didn't have a metal body all around to protect me if I ran into something. This left me feeling a bit exposed and a little anxious, so I just rode around more carefully, especially when coming out of an aisle and turning around a blind corner (which is pretty much every corner where an aisle is concerned).

The next issue I ran across was products/objects I could normally reach easily were a real stretch now. Especially in the cold sections where everything is behind glass doors. Figuring out how to position the cart so I could open the door was bad enough. But then trying to reach a product was a whole new problem. I resorted to using my cane once or twice because trying to stand up was really going to be uncomfortable.

Eventually, I managed to get everything I wanted and decided to check out. Even though at this point every fiber of my body was thinking...

(Thank you Monty Python's Flying Circus)!

All right, I'll stop being silly, now. Anyway, the whole experience had started to feel more like an ordeal than a convenience, in a number of ways. For instance, at the checkout finding myself at a lower level felt weird, but I managed to use the keypad and whatnot without too much trouble. But then the cashier asked if I'd like someone to accompany me to my car so then that person could bring the electric cart back into the store and save me the trip. Naturally, I thought this was a very kind and wonderful idea and agreed. From there I was directed to a spot out of the way, to wait while an employee was summoned to accompany me. Well, it wound up being a 5-minute wait, and I couldn't help starting to feel like I was inconveniencing whoever was being asked to help me. I was just about to say forget it, I'll just go ahead and bring the cart back myself after emptying everything into my car, when an employee showed up. I'm pleased to say he was very helpful, and I really did appreciate his help. Still, I couldn't quite shake that feeling like I had been a bother.

Naturally this whole trip started giving me story ideas, as well as the inspiration for this post. Drawing from our own life experiences, or even from someone else who doesn't mind you using their story, can be a rich source of material for writing. Mind you, I mostly try to stick with pulling from my own life, but there have been more than a few ideas I got from something a friend or family member told me. But whenever I used someone else's experience, I made sure I only chose the ones where they were willing to give me insights as to what they were feeling and thinking when it happened. I do this because I strive to make what I write as sincere and believable as possible, even if some of my subject matter is more science fiction or fantasy based. And based on what readers have told me, they really appreciate these efforts. It helps make the characters more real to the audience. Those kinds of touches can make a reader really feel like these characters are someone they know (or would like to know) in real life. They become more invested in the tale and really want to find out how the rest of the character's story unfolds. And if you happen to be using that character in a series, it makes the audience eager to come back and visit them again and again.

Well, that's all I have to say for now. But again, drawing from life experiences (good or bad) for your writing, can really make a difference. And if you wind up drawing from some of the darker chapters your own life, you might find it a bit therapeutic. Who knows? 

Until next time, keep writing my friends!

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