Monday I posted a wonderful quote by (and a fabulous portrait of) Oscar Wilde. Experience is something we all have and none of us got it off a silver platter. Good, bad, ugly experience is what happens in life. In fact, we could go so far as to call it life. If we aren't experiencing anything, we aren't living!
As writers, we feed off experience, our own and that of others. Countless books are out there written out of the depths of some one's joy or sorrow, from tragedy or triumph. Many times I look at these books and think, "If I was able to travel to Tahiti, go back to school, drop off the grid for seven years, I, too would have a published book." Sadly, it is true that those with the most sensational story do capture the publisher's eye.
That being said, don't be dissuaded you from your own stories. I may not have lived the adventurous life I dreamed of and longed for as a child (yet, at any rate), but I have had many experiences in my thirty two years that have potential for story making. Some are unbelievable, some are hilarious, others are tragic or down right boring. However, they all make up the rich tapestry that is my life.
No matter where you are in life, no matter where you're going, you have a story to tell. "But I don't WANT to write about living in the middle of no where and working as a receptionist who dreams of traveling to Egypt and discovering a forgotten Pharaoh's tomb!" you may whine (or was that me?). Well, no, I don't see much in that plot line. But what I do see is valuable insights into life that can be used in the telling of a story. Then again, maybe you could write about a receptionist who DOES travel to Egypt and discovers a forgotten tomb.
See where I'm going with this? We don't all wake up every morning to sip champagne and chat with literary giants over crumpets and Earl Grey (we can't all be Oscar Wilde). What we can do is sift through our memories, through the vast storehouses of life past and present and unearth some gems that our characters could benefit from. Some may glisten like diamonds. Others may take a bit of polishing. You may find a few lumps of coal. Give them enough pressure and they'll shine eventually. If nothing else, toss them into the fire and keep your hands warm as you scratch out those tales.
Use what you have. Write what you know. Take your unique voice and your most mundane day to day and turn it into something beautiful. And remember: most of your readers can't identify with riding camels in the Sahara. What they can relate to is honesty and a new way of looking at something they see everyday. Even a grocery cart could spark a story. Especially if you use them to play bumper cars with in the parking lot! (Disclaimer: I do not advocate destruction of public property in the name of storytelling. IF it happens, however, completely accidental of course, then by all means put it in! Just remember to change names to protect the guilty-er-innocent ;) Who on earth would play bumper cars with a grocery cart anyway. . .
(Day Dreaming by Daniel Ridgway Knight. Image found here)