Did you ever stop and think about the small incidents within your life that ended up affecting you in ways you never could have imagined at the time?
I am not referring to incidents you would expect to influence you, such as a discussion with a school guidance counselor, but rather something that happened “out of the blue” that you didn’t even think much about at the time. But then–years later– you find yourself recalling the incident again and again realizing the impact it had on your life.
When I started writing my first fictional book, “A Quiet Little Town” my idea wasn’t to just make up a story, but rather to start with real incidents and real people who have influenced my life. From there I wanted to let my imagination go, but not in a pointless way.
I started the book over twenty years ago, but then set it aside when I got too busy with work. This past year, as I have been “winding down” my business, I decided to pick the book up again and finish it.
When I re-read it I realized I had a number of these small incidents in the story that occurred in my own life, but I had no idea why I had included many of these incidents in the story.
Then I read a tip that Malcolm Gladwell, a best-selling author, gave in one of his masterclasses on writing. He said the mistake many authors make is spending a lot of time trying to figure out how to start the story, but not enough time thinking about how to end it. He said that if you write the ending first, it will make writing the rest of the story easy.
His tip hit home with me. By forcing myself to write the ending, it also forced me to figure out exactly what I was trying to say in this book and which of those small incidents belonged in the book to support my message.
I don’t want to give away the story in this blog, but I will tell you that when I started the book my children were young and I was concerned how my own behavior might influence them because I know how much my own parents influenced me. Children are going to remember things that might seem inconsequential to a grown-up. Perhaps we all should be a little more aware of the little things we do when around children (or grandchildren) because you never know when a seemingly small incident will affect them in ways you never could have imagined.