Stories are everywhere.
I was reminded of that fact when I went into the bank recently to open a savings account for Baby M. In her information gathering, the woman helping me asked where Baby M was born.
“And where were you born?”
“Here in Heppner,” I said, with my usual disclaimer, “when the hospital still delivered babies.” (They haven’t delivered babies in my hometown hospital for 30 years. That’s all I’m saying about that.)
“Oh,” she said. “Me, too. I was a switcher.”
“Ummm…a what?” I mumbled.
“One of the babies who was switched at the hospital up here. Did you hear about it?”
I had. In fact, I heard about it when the story made national news about a year ago. I was way more than a day late and a dollar short in my discovery, since a reporter from the East Oregonian broke the story first. Still, I was fascinated to find myself sitting across a desk from a woman who, quite literally, grew up in the wrong family.
(Oh, and I’m not making this up. You can read the story here.)
While I may not be able to dig any submissions of my own out of this tale—or a book, since the reporter is now working on a manuscript—it still served as a reminder that ideas really are everywhere. How many times during the course of a day, a week or a month do we interact with people who have marvelous, wild or just plain unbelievable stories? Is it the bank teller? What about your hair dresser? Or the young man sitting next to you on the bus?
Sometimes I feel I just don’t have enough good ideas. Not enough fodder for the mental grist mill. After an encounter like I had today, though, I realize that’s just an excuse. It’s an excuse I won’t believe any more. I won’t believe it when I hear it from my own lips and I won’t believe it when I hear it from yours. Instead, I’ll recognize it for what it is…a career-killing combination of lack of imagination and laziness.
Stories like Kay Rene’s are a wonderful jolt. They’re a reminder to dig a little deeper into our own lives and the lives of those around us. If you think you can’t be an author or a journalist because you can’t come up with ideas, you need to give yourself a good slap...mental or physical, whatever does the trick.
Because stories are everywhere. Sometimes they fall into your lap. More often, they require energy to dig up and dust off. Either way, they’re right there. They’re in your own history. They’re in your next-door neighbor and the girl who babysits your kids. They’re in the banker sitting across the desk from you.
Go out and find some stories today.