...from dinner at an Italian restaurant? Well. Lest anybody think the writerly, studenty life involves little but writing, studenting and general meandering about our gloriously sunny campus (yes, the sun is rare. I'm excited.), let me disabuse you of that notion. Tonight, I'm going out. Just for a meal in town, for a friend's birthday, but the unusual thing about this is: there will be about thirty other people at dinner too.
The last time I went out with more than a handful of friends, I was seventeen, it was lunch after my school graduation, and I entertained my entire class of sixty by trying desperately to fish a cherry out of the bottom of my friend Tarun's sweet lime soda. Believe me, I had no idea everyone had fallen silent and was watching me struggle. Such was my absorption in getting that cherry.
So it's been, what? Five years now since that outing? And here I am again, about to embark on a similar feat of large gatherings at a restaurant. The reason I mention this is because, when I find myself amongst so many people, most of whom I won't know in the slightest, I invariably get Ideas. I steal things off them. Someone might say something funny and in my head, I'll go ping! I'm going to use that line! Or I might see someone with an absolutely exceptional nose and I'll immediately want to use that nose on a lovely, charming new character.
It's an illness. I could swear it is. I don't know about other writers, but I personally find it very hard to bump into an unusual characteristic or witty banter or magnificent nose without thinking I want to use that. Books are always on my brain. Ideas. Those sneaky things.
How do you get your ideas? Can you hear your friends say something funny without wanting to tweak or use it in some way?