Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Life Imitates Art

Like all authors, I often use bits and pieces of real life in my writing.

But it's not that often that I come across something specific in real life after I've used it in my writing.

For instance, one time I was in the grocery store and a little girl came in who WAS one of my main characters. I was so shocked. I could not stop staring at her. (The character was Bird from Fame and Glory in Freedom, Georgia.) Instead of seeing the girl first and writing the character, I created the character and then saw her.

Life imitating art.

Yesterday, it happened again.

In my next novel, Greetings from Nowhere, one of the main characters is an elderly woman who has recently lost her beloved husband. He just keeled right over in the tomato garden. His garden eventually becomes overtaken by weeds (and becomes an important story element).

In real life, there was an elderly woman in my town named Alice. Such a perfect name. She went to my church and came every Sunday and used the special earphones for the hearing impaired. She crocheted dish towels for the Ladies Alliance. She lived on a main road in a little white house with a very small rectangle of a vegetable garden in the side yard, surrounded by a chicken-wire fence. I've passed by it a bajillion times.

She died not long ago.

Yesterday, I drove by her house. It's empty. It looks like an empty house. The yard is full of dandelions.

And her vegetable garden is completely overgrown with weeds.

It looked so sad.

Life imitating art.

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