I’m often asked—no, I’m sometimes asked—actually, I’m rarely asked, “How do you think of things to write about?” Depending on who’s asking, I might respond with, “Well, actually, the correct way to ask the question is—how do you think of things about which to write?” And if that doesn’t make them leave me alone I share my collection of phrases. It’s not really ‘my’ collection—it’s just ‘a’ collection. To be completely honest, nobody ever asks, but if they did, here’s what I’d say. “I listen. It’s amazing what you’ll hear just by listening.”
I can barely suppress a giggle when someone begins by whispering, “Nobody knows this, but…” And when they’ve finished sharing some recent rumor or conspiracy theory, I ask, “And nobody knows this?” It takes a few seconds for even the dimmest person to realize what they’ve implied, but eventually everyone does, which usually results in a, “Well, anyway,” another way of saying, “let’s not quibble about the facts or reality.”
Two phrases, when said, provide me great pleasure in interrupting the interloper. “I was gonna say,” and “Like I said,” too often are the first things out of someone’s mouth, which makes no sense. When this happens I’ll interrupt with, “By saying, I was gonna say, you have implied that you are not gonna say.” Or I’ll say, “By saying, like I said, you’re implying that you’ve already said, which you haven’t.” Yes, I’m often rude and pointed, but only to those who need or deserve that particularly kind of treatment. Does everyone find it difficult to make friends these days, or is it just me?
Perplexing statements include—“I almost didn’t forget,” which technically means they did forget, but in reality usually means they remembered at the last minute.
“Nobody will ever know,” is an instant demotion of all present to nobody and always implies something untoward is about to occur. Run!
“To tell you the truth”—is usually followed by an opinion, which may be the truth as that persons believes it to be, but isn’t necessarily bound by facts.
“The fact of the matter is”—doesn’t guarantee that any actual facts are about to be imparted, and usually precedes one’s bloviated opinion.
“If a guy,” is a phrase used by people who want to offer an opinion but aren’t quite committed to a particular notion. So, they’ll say, “If a guy would do this or do that.” They participate in, and advance the conversation without taking a position.
A phrase I love to use during deer season is—“I almost saw a mountain lion.” And nearly everyone asks, where. And I’ll repeat, I almost saw one at such and such place. About half catch on right away–the other half linger while I continue with a full description of the beast with several, I almost saws, sprinkled in. We hear what we want to hear.
Want to know how to frustrate a gossiper? When they say, “I’m not supposed to tell anyone,” stop them right there and don’t let them tell you. They so desperately want to tell something they shouldn’t that it drives them batty. Try it. Soon, they’ll stop running to you with gossip. It’s amazing how much more productive your day will be when you’re left out of the gossip loop.
So, how do I come up with material for my books? Well, don’t tell anyone, but, like I said, if a guy just listens, they can hear some very perplexing and interesting things. As far as I know, nobody that I know, knows this. There’s just one more thing that I almost didn’t forget, but I did.