Experiences and Writing

By now you have probably figured out that I have grandiose plans to become a professional writer.  This is nothing new for me.  I remember dreaming of being an author all the way back to when I was 15 or 16.

Back then, though, I let myself get hung up on the whole “but I’ve never done anything or been anywhere” excuse.  I grew up on a farm and I believed that whole bit about writing what you know.  The problem was, what I knew wasn’t what I wanted to write.  I wanted to write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories, not stories about cows and pigs and chickens.  Since I’d never been into space or visited a fantastic realm, I didn’t really think my life had any relevance to what I wanted to put down on paper.

It was a mistake.  I had this great imagination that I didn’t let roam to explore the possibilities of marrying my life with the fantastic stories I wanted to write.  What I failed to understand is that all my experiences have relevance.

For example, my family bred, raised, trained and raced Standardbred Race Horses.  Does that have any relevance to any Science Fiction stories?  I know, when I read “Split Infinity” by Piers Anthony, a large part of the main character’s back story was how he grew up looking after horses and later became a jockey.  It was key to who he was.

So I ask myself again, would my experience have some relevance to Science Fiction and Fantasy writing based on what I’ve already told you?  I guess it might after all.

I’ve since come to the conclusion that ALL our experiences are important for our story telling.  They all dictate who we are and in turn help to define our characters.  They also give us something to draw on for our stories.

Take, for example, my return flight home from Vancouver on Tuesday night.  A typical flight is 90 – 110 minutes from gate to gate.  My trip was supposed to leave Vancouver at 17:15 PST and arrive in Calgary at 19:55 MST (1 hour 40 minutes if you’re counting).  The plane didn’t actually leave the ground until 18:15 PST.

OK, late take-off… no biggie.  That’s almost standard practice for some airlines.

We get to Calgary and are informed by the pilot that Calgary was socked in with bad weather and we would be in a holding pattern for 30 – 40 minutes with the possibility of being rerouted to Regina (city in the next province approximately 900 Km or about 560 miles away).  Not ideal.

Happily we landed in Calgary… then we sat on the tarmac for the next 2 hours or so (the lightning had the airport at red alert which prevents anyone from setting foot on the asphault).  Once we finally made it off the plane, the baggage from all the backed up flights actually jammed the baggage carousels.  That added another 40 minutes.  The final event was a complete lack of taxis; the heavy rain had guaranteed that the cabbies were staying home, believe it or not.  I had to wait 45 minutes for a cab (there were about 300 – 400 people behind me waiting when I left).

I could only laugh at the series of events.  It was, literally and figuratively, the perfect storm.  I was very grateful to make it home, trust me.

Will this ever find it’s way into a story?  Almost definitely.  I still haven’t made it into space or stepped through a wardrobe into a magic land, but so what?  I now know that it doesn’t matter.  I can use my everyday experiences to create something fantastic.


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