Where does a writer get material to write about? I can’t speak for other writers, I can only speak for myself. I get my material from my ongoing journal of 40 years that I’m writing in at this very moment.
Most of the time when I start a journal entry I have no idea what I’m going to say. I might begin writing about the weather or how I feel or what’s going on in the world or what’s going on outside my window. Just by putting words on paper or my computer screen, an idea or incident might enter my thoughts. If I think I can make something meaningful out of that idea or incident, I’ll write as much about it as swiftly as I can before I go back and do the rewriting. Today is a rare day for me. I don’t have to stumble across something to write, I know exactly what I want to write: about a humiliating incident that took place last night at AT&T Park where the San Francisco Giants play baseball. I always treasure writing about meaningful incidents, even those that reveal my flaws.
My wife Joan and I weren’t at the ballpark for a baseball game, we were there to watch the Donizetti opera, Lucia di Lammermoor. It was San Francisco Opera’s twice-a-year presentation of “Opera at the Ballpark,” where all of San Francisco is invited to watch a live simulcast from the War Memorial Opera House on the ballpark’s jumbo scoreboard–for free.
After Joan and I got off the streetcar, we came upon a line that was three blocks long. We went to the head of the line and found that only one entrance was open and only one security guard was checking bags. It was the height of poor planning, which meant we were in for a long, long wait.
I wanted to kind of melt into the front of the line, but Joan was totally against it. “That’s not being fair to the people standing in line,” she berated me.
“I’m only trying to get us in before the opera starts. You don’t want to stand out here longer than an hour, do you?”
“It’s not right,” she said. “It’s rude. I’m going to the back of the line. You do what you want.”
I followed Joan to the back of the line because it was The Right Thing To Do. For ten minutes we barely inched along. All of a sudden the dam broke and within a few minutes we were inside the ballpark. The one and only security guard had stopped checking bags so that everyone could get in on time to see the beginning of the opera.
As it turned out, the two of us, along with 25,000 others, had a grand time watching the opera on the giant ballpark screen.