On Thursday, I went to the hospital for dental surgery. I was knocked out via general anesthesia and was scared to pieces as I walked in. I could convince myself I wasn’t really doing it up to the moment I walked into the OR in my hospital gown and saw the table with those round overhead lamps with the beehive-like bulbs.
I’ve jotted down notes about that experience. The way I felt, the machines and people around me. The smell of antiseptic and the color blue that pervaded. One never knows when something like that will come in handy in a story.
It’s a useful coping mechanism but it’s also the truth. Writers use everything. This time it was a deliberate recognition of that fact and helped me to get through something I didn’t really want to do. But it happens in so many other ways that come back later.
The tang of an orange slice in a salad.
The tickle in my nose after the grass is cut in summer.
The cold blankness of winter at night when there’s no wind and the stars are glittering above.
A paper cut.
It’s been said that writers live many lives. I believe that. But the main one, mine, is filled with all the moments that help me write the others. I think it’s best to experience first and write it down later rather than observe while it’s happening. It’s an important distinction. Live first, write second.
But yeah, writers use everything.
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