by Suzanne Woods Fisher
On a sunny summer morning, my husband walked into the kitchen. “I fixed the bathroom scale,” he said, looking pleased. “You weigh five pounds more than you thought you did.”
Steve thought that was good news. He’s an accountant. Numbers are important. Not those numbers, I tried to explain, barely able to hold back my indignation.
That conversation became a blog post. That’s the beauty of a writer’s life…everything is grist for the mill. You can elevate the smallest things through storytelling-even a bathroom scale.
By paying attention.
I jot down details on index cards I keep in my purse-interesting words, funny remarks, ideas for beats. I’m training myself to pay attention. Notice some of the details in this excerpt of The Haven:
“Well, at least we have Annie’s grandfather set up so he’ll be all right by himself,” M.K. said hopefully.
Fern eyed her over her shoulder. “We have him set up so that you and Jimmy Fisher can come each Saturday and keep up with the housework and bring him fresh food.” Out loud, she subtracted seven from thirty-five. “Let’s see. Just four more Saturdays.”
“That many?” M.K. asked in a puny voice.
Fern wasn’t listening. “Don’t you agree, Hank?”
Uncle Hank was helping Annie’s grandfather into his chair on the porch where he liked to sit and watch the world go by-not that much of the world was going by this little dirt lane. He lifted the old man’s feet up and placed them on a pillow. “You betcha! I might even come with you two next Saturday. I’ll bring my checkers.”
Annie’s grandfather brightened at that thought. But it worried M.K. Since when did Uncle Hank volunteer for work? Ordinarily, he woke early and tinkered with a few buggies that were sitting in his buggy shop, since he was up at that hour anyway. But then he figured he’d done his day’s chores and off he’d go to fish at Blue Lake Pond.
“What would you say to that, Edith? You coming too?” Uncle Hank looked over at Edith and winked, which flustered her. Edith Fisher never flustered.
Edith looked away, and her hand crept up to the knot of hair on her neck. “We’ll see.” A rosy blush crept over her face.
Their eyes met.
M.K. and Jimmy exchanged a dark glance, a rare moment when they saw life from the same vantage point.
What was happening to the world? Everything was upside down.
We have a world around us just waiting to be noticed-small, everyday details. Weave them into a story and you can ground characters in a scene and reveal their personalities.
Develop eyes and ears to see and hear life on a deeper level. You’ll be amazed at the sources of inspiration you’ll encounter. Life will never seem quite the same. Instead, it will be filled with meaning—just as God intended it to be.
Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction books about the Old Order Amish. She hosts a weekly radio show, Amish Wisdom, and is a columnist for Christian Post. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area.