Found Objects

A while back I was driving through this, my hometown, when I pulled up behind a man on a scooter. It was a brown Vespa, and he had a helmet of brown, and a shirt of dusty orange, and his backpack was brown and orange. No ordinary backpack, either–it sat slanted across his back, snug, and the band of orange across it matched up with the line of the wide straps, which ran over one shoulder and around his waist. He had a scruffy reddish beard and jeans. Just a guy, you know.

But he was so perfectly himself, so color-matched, so different from every other Vespa rider. There was a confidence or a charisma about him that I remember. I think of him as a found object. Just an image, but it was enough to spark a memory, and that will someday be in a story. His name will be Gervaise, or Richard. Until then, he’ll live in my head, and scoot around on his Vespa, and perhaps work in a garden or secretly collect snails. Now he’s mine, someday to be shared.

Like shells on a beach, we need to have an eye for the interesting ones–not always the pretty ones–and a desire to collect them. Writers can take any moment like this and tuck it away, someday to be brought out. If you need to write them down, that’s fine; they’ll live longer that way. It needn’t be the full description, just jot down ‘orange and brown Vespa rider’ and that will be enough to remind you. Then when you need an image to get you started, or a character description, or the feelings the sight brought out in you–you’ll be able to rootle through your collection of found objects and find what you like.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. leafless
    Sep 10, 2008 @ 10:58:03

    “Like shells on a beach, we need to have an eye for the interesting ones–not always the pretty ones–and a desire to collect them.”

    A great reminder to all.

  2. asherose
    Sep 10, 2008 @ 15:39:52

    Thanks 🙂

  3. Bailey Phelps
    Sep 12, 2008 @ 15:04:55

    Oddly enough, this corresponds exactly with a major piece of the seminar I am leading tonight with ministerial candidates. Speaking with them about sermons, I am preaching the Gospel of the Notebook – which says, whenever something strikes your heart or mind, touches you, means something to you, write it into the notebook. Sooner or later, it will become a perfect sermon illustration. It may be a news story, a cartoon, a moment of insight – the pastor looks at the world through eyes of faith, so as to enable others to see their faith living in the world. The author looks at the world through eyes of creativity, in the same sort of way.

  4. asherose
    Sep 12, 2008 @ 16:36:04

    Sometimes they even overlap. Thank you! 🙂

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