Sometimes I forget not to stare. In the subway, on the street, at work... I try to look at my fellow humans surreptitiously... did I say "look"? I meant observe. As writers we become observers, or perhaps more correctly, collectors. We collect people and behavior the way some people collect figurines or bits of colorful string. We see a particularly interesting specimen and we observe it, and then lock away the information for future inclusion in a story, poem or novel.
Sometimes while I'm collecting, I forget not to stare. Staring is a high-risk act in New York City, where unfortunate persons have been known to have been beaten, stabbed or shot just for locking eyes with a stranger. But I can't help myself. I'm a writer. A collector of the bits and pieces that make up the greater human Diaspora. A person's dress, a hair-do, a swagger, a mannerism, an inflection of voice, a particular phrase... there are so many things that can and do add color to our writing! Can I be forgiven if I give someone the once-over because I find something about that person so interesting that I must have it? I hope so. On the bus, about 6-months ago, I noticed a young lady's unusual mode of dress... flips and flounces, trips and trounces... all interspersed with the leather and spikes of a goth. One eye heavily done in black make-up while the other sported a soft pastel color and an outlandishly long fake eyelash. The overall effect was of an innocent waif possessed by some sort of evil, vampiric tart... well, I was brought back to earth by a young man that I supposed was accompanying the young lady asking me if I knew her... ulp, I did not. Thankfully the incident did not escalate, but I must remind myself in the future, or maybe I'll just wear a sign, "Staring not deliberate, writer at work."