I was sitting at breakfast with my family the other day - family with whom I don’t often get the opportunity to visit since we live so far apart - and they were telling stories. This is one of the joys of being with my family who talk a lot and loudly, laughs often, and enjoy the space we share. Around the table were three aunts, two uncles, and a cousin (also a writer) and my daughter. As usual, the stories were family tales of grandparents and great-grandparents, times when our parents or the cousins were small, and funny anecdotes that we’ve heard again and again but never get old. Eventually, my aunt Susan turns to Mike - my writer cousin - and I and observes, “Nothing is safe with you two around, is it?”
Here’s a truth about writers: we are collectors. At first, I think about The Collector in the Marvel Universe, or maybe a librarian with beautifully arranged artifacts and books. These images - for me - conjure a romantic notion of what it might be like as a writer. For example, it might be sitting down at a Parisian Cafe and penning into a leather-bound notebook a gorgeous list of things to remember (ever read A Moveable Feast by Hemingway? If not, your next assignment!). I like this image.
But hoarders of information is probably a more apt description.
We collect, and collect, and collect stories, facts, tidbits of information, moments, impressions that may or may not be useful. Our minds are filled with boxes and boxes stacked one on top of the other with only enough room for little pathways for our memory to traverse. But ask a writer, and chances are every one of those mind-boxes contains very important memory bits that we are (probably) going to need one day.
Truthfully, those boxes may never get opened, and should probably be gleaned - But dammit! You never know when that little sliver of information might come in handy!
So be forewarned! If you know a writer, chances are, everything is being stored: the who, what, when, where, why, how, impressions and tone. Then we’ll file it in our mind hoard, into a box that may or may not get opened. I guess you’ll just have to read our work to see if you notice any interesting tidbits and similarities, but I promise (what’s that disclaimer after the movies?) this story is fiction, and any similarities between a real person and the fictional work is unintentional.