Thursday, October 13, 2005

Poll

Okay, writers are ghouls. On a listserve I'm on a discussion has come up that started with Graham Greene's statement that every writer must have a sliver of ice in his heart (or something to that effect; I no longer have the original post) and gone on to people recounting experiences--from robbery to brain surgery--during which they have found themselves taking notes on the experience for later use. I have a bunch of these myself, from childbirth to having my wallet lifted (I got to go to One Police Plaza; I got deposed by an ADA; I felt like an extra in Law and Order!). Aside from the technical benefits of amassing information about a traumatic situation, I've always thought that the "someday I'll use this" experience is a way of getting a handle on an un-handleable event.

So my question is: when something big happens, do you find yourself taking notes? Are you a writer, or are we kidding ourselves in thinking that this is a behavior specific to writers, film-makers, etc.?

9 Comments:

Blogger C. F. Blog said...

Sorry it’s just you...just kidding!

For me- big experiences go down as a conversation I would have with Jay Leno. Then again when I was younger and I was playing the overdramatic teenager, my mom would say ‘go tell it to Oprah’.

So I guess I'm not a writer… I'm a verbal.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

A conversation you would have or did have?

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Alison Scott said...

It's not about being a big serious professional writer. Everyone who writes even a little bit does this. So, when something really bad happens, we go "oh well, at least I'll get a fanzine article out of it." These days, "oh well, at least I'll get a blog post out of it."

3:56 PM  
Anonymous L.N. Hammer said...

Yup, I do it. Sometimes I'll even journal it as soon as I can, to have the raw material later.

---L.

4:53 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I don't think you have to be a serious professional writer--or even a frivolous professional writer. Some people collect anecdotes and recount them at parties; other people blog about them; my father can hold forth on the fascinating and juicy cases he encountered when he was an EMT. But I do know some people don't take notes, and consider me damned weird because I do.

5:19 PM  
Blogger C. F. Blog said...

...'would have'.

But I don't think it's weird, I bet at a party or social functions you have the best stories to share. People see you and say 'hey Madeleine's here, she's fun'.

7:12 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

A lot of the parties I go to are filled with other writers. It gets ugly: a scrum of writers all trying to tell the best story and bask in the momentary approval of their peers.

I'm also the kind of shy that goes with being a good public speaker but easily overwhelmed at parties. It's why I like to be the person throwing the party--I can hide behind replenishing the chips when it all gets to be too much. I crave attention, but don't know what to do with it unless I'm on stage.

7:54 AM  
Blogger C. F. Blog said...

Like a bunch of beta fish they fighting to the death, I can imagine the room getting louder and louder as one trying to one up the other.

Me...when I do my children birthday parties my husband will go with me as Mr. Helper and sometimes he'll have the best lines but he's shy, so he'll just whisper them quietly to me and I'll deliver the line and the people laugh and think I'm so quick and funny.

Then when the show is over I'll say wasn't that the best line ‘I’ came up with. :)

8:38 AM  
Anonymous Caryn said...

During the crisis it gives me a reason to stay sane, because screaming just isn't "done".

And it somehow gives me hope of rewriting the scene someday to give it a better outcome.

2:22 PM  

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