Thursday, March 17, 2011

Writing Tip Thursday #9 - Follow the Sock

This is my mother's sock. The sock she left at my house when she visited a year ago from Uruguay. I don't sleep with the sock under my pillow, weeping that my mom isn't with me. No fear. I can't throw the sock away because it doesn't belong to me. But I never remember to mention the sock when I skype with my mom. So what does the sock do? It gets washed.

I have seen this sock do the laundry cycle for a year and I've just let it. I don't know I'm putting it into the wash over and over again, at least, I didn't until I started thinking about it. But when I found it in the wash again last night I did the math: No one has worn this sock for more than a year. I've seen this sock in the laundry basket several times. Ergo I'm just washing the sucker again and again because I don't know what else to do with it.

I started to think about how incredibly weird a mother's sock in the wash for a year is. It's pretty weird. It's the kind of detail, real and bizarre that is perfect for a story.

In my case, it represents crazed home life and an unattractive tendency to let things go (I mean, I washed it for a year...) But it could represent an unwillingness to let a loved one go, it could represent a sinister reminder of family dysfunction. It could be a humorous quirk of a character that makes space for inanimate objects instead of people, ala Lars and the Real Girl. A sock could be a red herring in a mystery. A sock is never just a sock for a writer.

What I'm saying is that you can turn around, pick up whatever happens to be behind you and have a lot to write about. Nothing is truly banal, nothing unimportant, nothing is beneath the writer's notice. You could build a story on a sock. You can certainly build a blog post.

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  1. Weeeeeeeeeeird. I have those same socks.

  2. Interesting. Great post. It's a great reminder to keep my eyes peeled to life around me for inspiration.


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