This question occurred to me after watching the 1989 movie Parenthood with Steve Martin, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards and one of my favorite actors, Keanu Reeves, before he became the mega star of Matrix. Steve Martin’s character, Gil, wanted a quiet, uneventful life, devoid of the highs and lows of raising children, and building a career. His life wasn’t going as he’d planned. While bemoaning this reality, his grandma played by Helen Shaw, engaged him in the following conversation.
“You know, when I was nineteen, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster.
“Oh?” Gil said.
“Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride. I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all at the same time. Some didn’t like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it.”
Wise words. You take a chance when you buy a ticket to ride the roller coaster. You know what to expect on a merry-go-round. Merry-go-rounds are safe, predictable. Roller coasters mirror life. Your blood pumps. Your heart races. You feel alive.
View it from a writer’s perspective. On a roller coaster, the varied emotions experienced are endless, as is the cacophony of sights, sounds and colors. Story ideas abound. A merry-go-round is not without its appeal, however. In fact, for a time, that was my favorite ride, no doubt because of a near-death experience. When I was a child, my aunt caught me before I plummeted toward earth. But when I started writing I chose the roller coaster.
Story ideas develop through our experiences: those we meet alone the way, our adventures, and yes, the writer’s organizations we join. PNWA is my personal writer’s resource. Now, go out and choose the unexpected path. Live life. Ride the roller coaster.
Have a great day creating your future,