It was a hot summer day at the beach. My best friend and I were staying at her grandparents’ beautiful beach house. After lounging around after a BBQ dinner, her grandparents recommended that we check out a classic rock cover band on the boardwalk.
We were expecting the Rolling Stones. Led Zeppelin. The Who.
That was not what we got.
We got old men in Hawaiian shirts covering songs like “Lady in Red” and “Wonderful Tonight” (which caused my friend to rant about how the song is NOT romantic) instead. There was a lot of dancing. By older couples trying to revive dance moves that we didn’t even know existed. Some drunk old men were singing along in really loud voices to “You’re In My Heart.” Your wedding guests did not beat the arm swaying that came along with “Sweet Caroline.”
At the time, it was pretty mortifying.
Five years later, I think it is pretty fabulous.
While many people would have wrote the evening off as a dud, I did not. I saw it as comic gold for the book I was writing. I was creating a young adult version of the Persephone myth, and it was the perfect comic relief for a tense scene I was writing. I just changed the setting to a beach and put the characters near the concert and BOOM. Writing gold.
So my challenge to you is this: keep your eyes open. Whether an event is good or bad (especially if it is bad), see if you can repurpose it in your writing somehow. Saw a terrible movie? Use it as inspiration for a blog post. A customer refused to buy your product? Note her objections and refute her in your copy. Had a terrible interaction on a bus? Make it a scene in your novel.
Who knows? You might use the material twice. I used the concert in a novel AND this blog post.
I will be returning to the same beach and the same house with the same friend this summer. Will we go to another concert? Of course not! We are not masochists. However, if we accidentally run into one or something equally absurd, you will be sure I will be writing about it.
Want to encourage a friend to find inspiration in unexpected places? Please pass this post along to her or share this on social media!