I’m sure that many of you will agree that inspiration comes from everywhere. Truly – it does. For example, the original thought for the scene that has become the short story, ‘Second Best’, came from watching a cat stalk a bird in our back yard. The cat wasn’t much more than a kitten and I knew he wouldn’t kill the bird; but the stealth and cunning with which he stalked it was as serious as though he was hunting for his next meal.
Several readers of ‘Second Best’ suggested that I expand it to contain the actual confrontation between the two boys. A very good suggestion; but one that had me in a bit of a fix. Showing Curtis’ emotional state is the key, but having never experienced such a state, how could I capture it convincingly?
Fate stepped in. Literally – in the form of a chance conversation with someone I’ve known for a while. Well actually, I discovered that I didn’t know him at all. This person is trapped in a situation generated by a number of previous bad decisions – all his. I know this because of earlier conversations. Instead of manning up and taking responsibility for his actions, he chooses to find external causes, entities, and people to blame. So naturally, in his mind, it’s the government’s fault. It’s also the fault of everyone else (including me) who thinks that humanity owes a debt to humanity and that ‘taking care’ is a natural state of being. He has convinced himself that ‘taking care’ uses resources that are being diverted from him and others like him. I focused in on his face – his expressions and the looks he gave me while he spewed his nonsense. What I saw was that I am already collateral damage in his mind – and it’s okay with him. Chilled me to the bone.
Though still in shock, I found my voice and asked him questions, trying to draw out more of his emotional state. I kept engaging him with more questions and suppositions; committing his answers to memory. Why would I want to do that? Wouldn’t a sane person have run screaming from the room? I’m not sane. I’m a writer. 🙂 I stayed because in my mind, I was having a conversation with an older, less affluent version of Curtis.
…And now I’m posting about it. I fear no recriminations for several reasons. First, this person would never recognize himself as the person being described here. From his perspective, his viewpoint is rational, reasonable and the only one worth having. Secondly, I doubt very seriously that he spends time reading anything. He gets most of his information second or third hand – from other like minded individuals. Lastly, I’ve really not revealed anything about him besides his gender. This post is about an inspiration for Curtis; not about exposing someone with whom I disagree.
I feel no antipathy toward him. In fact, I thank him for the conversation. It illuminated a personality type I never thought to experience first hand. I wish him well and hope that he finds the solutions to his problems.
As always, comment if you like. Peace out.