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Using what’s around you

November 24, 2013

My new work in progress revolves around a guy who’s reached the age when he realizes things aren’t going to turn out the way he wanted–that even the little mid-life crisis he went through didn’t change much of anything.

It’s an age when companies cast aside people without thinking twice. It’s an age when being over 50 and looking for a job is like trying to find that email that you files in one of ten or twelve folders a long time ago. If you combine those two things, you get something far scarier than Stephen King could ever write.

In a related topic, there’s a foreclosed house we pass on the way to church each week. The back fence line is against the road my church is on, and over the past year and a half, the lawn has turned into a young forest. The weeds are now trees, and in the past couple weeks, a panel from the back fence has collapsed.

If you were in your early fifties and staring unemployment in the face, passing that house would carry great emotional weight. That could be your house. In that house, children grew up. Santa came. The dog pooped on the carpet. Maybe someone christened their new master bedroom with some of the greatest love making of their lives. It’s a house that was once a vibrant, important place and is now falling into disrepair, day by day. With nothing there to stop it.

I haven’t decided yet if the house–the fictional edition–is going to find a buyer to cut down the weed-trees and mend the fence. Maybe put a new set of shingles on the roof. That might be punching people in the face with the symbolism. Or it might not. We’ll have to see. That’s the fun of first drafts.

But those details–the things you can use to make your writing richer are all around you, if you take the time to see them.

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