THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
As a new writer, one of the first things I learned was to always carry around a little black book with me no matter where I went. No, not the kind to jot down some hot guy’s phone number, but the kind where you jot down descriptions of things you see, conversations you overhear, or anything else that you believe to be noteworthy. You know, things you can use as fodder for your novels. Of course, you can still use it for hot guys’ phone numbers, but I’m married so that’s off limits.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure of what I was doing, until one day, I was in the airport at my gate and a conversation ensued with the woman sitting next to me. Her story was heart wrenching, yet it came to a wonderful conclusion. I cried with her, I laughed, and I rejoiced as she progressed with her story. That’s when I realized the value of carrying this book around with me, and then I confessed that I was a writer and told her that her story might just wind up in a book one day. I haven’t written that story yet, but I did start it, and boy do I have the perfect title: “Maybe Never”.
One of my really favorite things to watch is couples who meet for the first time. Guys are so transparent when they flirt. Seriously. First it’s the flirty once over look, the staring until they catch her eye, then the smile and then BINGO, the wise cracking of jokes to show her he’s worthy of her time—sort of like a pitch to an editor. Watching a woman who’s interested is also quite amusing. I get a real kick out of it. But the most important thing is I’ve learned something new about interaction.
Another place I find useful to have my black book next to me, is when I’m watching television, and as soon as I learn something, I jot it down. I jot down expressions, the way things are said—not that I can use it verbatim, but so long as I change it around, I’m okay.
All my stories take place in New York because that’s what I’m familiar with. Parks and places in New York that I’m unfamiliar with also get jotted down so I can research it later.
During my train rides into the city while going to culinary school, some of the things I encountered were shocking, and some hilarious. I was just getting used to the subways—it was during the winter and I was bundled up. While outside, it served to keep me warm, but on the train it was sweltering. One such evening, it was already dark outside and I was getting nervous because this guy is staring me down. No smile on his face, just staring and scaring the heck out of me, so I moved. He moved too, and he’s still staring at me. My heart is now pounding through my chest; I’m not sure what to do, and I was certain no one on the train was going to come to my aid if something happened. So I moved again and stood right in front of the glass doors so I could make a speedy exit as soon as the train stopped. I don’t know why I thought I could outrun this guy, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. Finally, I look in the glass window to see if this guy is still staring at me when I happened to glance at my reflection and that’s when I realized sweating had caused my mascara to pool under both my eyes making it appear as though I had two black eyes. Now, I began to crack up. I’m laughing so hard I’m sure he thought I was a whack job because he took off to the other side of the train. The morale of this story is this is good information to add to your story, whether it’s a mystery or light-hearted, but the other thing it taught me was to act like a loon on the subway and they’ll leave you alone.
So what do you use to record memorable and not so memorable moments that you can add to your stories?