I don’t want you to be unduly nervous if, next time you’re sitting in a café having a nice conversation with friends, you see my author L at a nearby table, working. As I said, I don’t want you to be unduly nervous, but there’s something you should know about her: She writes things down. Once in a while – not all that often, but occasionally – she’ll hear a conversational fragment so irresistible she’s compelled to jot it in her notebook.
For example, one day she’s sitting at an outdoor café enjoying a cappuccino, and a discussion about weightlifting starts up at the next table. This guy is telling his friends he’s got a new body-building regime. “You take a bucket,” he says. “First day, you put two bricks in the bucket. You put that bucket on the floor in front of you, and you tense your core muscles, and you lean down and grab the handle of that bucket, and you lift. Bucket o′ Bricks, I call it. You do, say, ten reps, and you do, say, four sets.”
“That’s right. Couple days later,” he says, “you put three bricks in that bucket, you do the same. Bucket o′ Bricks.”
Then there was the guy who had practical tips for sleeping in the cemetery. This was another day, another café. What made L prick up her ears was that she heard a man’s voice say, “The thing you need to remember, if you’re going to sleep in the cemetery….”
Now, just about anyone who heard those words would stop what they were doing and listen for the rest of the thought, but a writer will pay special attention. Here’s what L transcribed into her notebook: “The thing you need to remember, if you’re going to sleep in the cemetery, is to make sure you’ve checked which way you’re facing before you lie down. If you’re not paying attention, and you fall asleep facing east, you could have the sun in your eyes by five in the morning.” This gem has found its way into the novel L is writing about me. I hope I can keep it, but given the way she’s editing these days – cutting paragraphs, cutting episodes in their entirety – I wouldn’t be surprised if this bit of advice for roughing it in the graveyard disappears. If it does, I’m sure it’ll find a home eventually in some other character’s story.
Mentioned in this post: weightlifting