Thursday, October 26, 2006

Friends Tell Tales

Today I went to lunch with a group of women friends. I use the word “lunch” loosely since our lunches usually last about four hours. There is eating involved, of course, but also laughter and hugs. And, today, a bit of tap dancing. Four or so of us had cameras, so we have pictures of big smiles, crazy costumes (it is almost Halloween, after all) and circles of bare feet. I’d tell you the story behind the bare feet, but, well, I can’t. That’d be like explaining why the term “frigate” kept coming up in conversation. Some things just have to stay within the group.

We all write. We all get along. We do talk about writing, but only a little. We heard about one woman’s recent four week writing residency in Costa Rica. Did you know cinnamon does absolutely nothing to keep away ants? On the non-writing side, we heard about another woman’s crazy trip to a Mexican border town. Did you know it’s possible, but not fun or easy, to transport a total stranger who’s totally drunk and obnoxious across the border from Mexico to the U.S.?

Lots of stories. Stories I will never use in my writing. That doesn’t mean I don’t adapt stories or tales I hear (I would never use something verbatim). But it does mean that authors have to have their own inner guidelines as to what they will or won’t “borrow” from friends. There are some acquaintances and friends who provide stories that become fodder for your writing. You change the story so much they could read it and have no idea their tale was the flicker that ignited a particular scene. There are some who are quite happy to let you use their life experiences. But there are some friends or groups of friends you would never even think of using their stories because it would be a breach of trust.

Which level your friends fall into is something you’ll have to figure out for yourself. But it’s important that you do.

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