Talk to me—go ahead and tell me your story! I rarely have to ask. I just sit there and the stories pour out. Even when I’m careful to warn people that I’m a story vampire and my “suck” the life out of their story, twisting and turning it into fiction, people still choose to talk.
Only once was I required to promise I would not write/use a story before being told a compelling and fiction-worthy tale. (A dear friend knew it was catnip before she spilled the story.) There have been a few times when someone wanted to talk me through the book they planned to write one day. That’s different. No promise necessary. I’d never steal any of that material and, to date, none of it would work for me anyway.
It’s the real stories that capture me. The missed chances for adventure, dodged romantic bullets, outrageous coincidences, family sagas, workplace war stories and travel dramas that intrigue me. Cultural peculiarities are fascinating, too. But even as I travel and learn the many ways people live and the wild and wide range of choices people make, it is the similarities—the essence of humanity—remains enthralling.
People are driven by passions. Yes, I know we start with essential animal hungers. We must eat, have a place to sleep, have sex…. But the passions that drive individuals are what separate us from and connect us to each other. All the stories people tell me seem to come down to what drives them as characters. Is it the need to create? (To write, dance, paint, sing, make music, invent, design, build…) Is it the need nurture, to be nurtured, to accumulate wealth, to experience adventures, to share, to withhold, to divide and conquer, to join and meld, to belong or to be a part, to rule or to obey….
Lots of stories there!