Thursday, July 14, 2016


I, Donis,  am supposed to be finishing up the edits on my latest manuscript right now. My editor wants the corrected MS by the end of next week. I should be correcting away. Instead I'm taking care of every item on my to-do list for the next month. I never accomplish as many random tasks as I do when I am facing a deadline.

I blame part of my difficulty on summer, or as Charlotte so appropriately called it, the "dog days", when it's too hot to do anything, all your energy is sapped right out of you, and you can't even think coherently. It's the perfect time for reading, the perfect time for observing. And as we know, the ability to observe critically is one of the top requirements for a successful artist of any sort.

One thing that I like to do when I am in observation mode is go to a restaurant or coffee shop and blatantly eavesdrop on my fellow diners. Listening to people talk is a great way to study speech patterns, slang, dialect, as well as a great way to come up with interesting plot lines. I mean, what did s/he mean when she said that! Walking around in the mall is a good eavesdropping technique. I particularly enjoy the walking eavesdrop because one generally only gets snatches of conversation, and if one is in writer mode, one immediately begins to fill in the blanks. I often carry a small notebook with me in order to immediately write down comments that intrigue me. Following are a few actual snatches of conversation that I overheard on several mall walking occasions:

What a sweetheart. It was so horrible I didn't want to ask. Devastating, you know?

I may go out tonight just because I'm so depressed.

Do you think he saw a ghost?
You might do well to check it out...

Oh, my God, I would not share that with anyone!

I don't want to give them too many of my emotions. (either a poet or in need of a vocabulary lesson- D.)

When I was a detective, they tried to get me to take a course in Forensic entomology, but I decided that one of the two homicide detectives on the squad ought to go instead of me. (I tried to follow this guy and listen in some more, but he eluded me.- D.)

I had to kind of become a Nazi to get it back.

He looks kind of like the Hamburgler but not so happy.

My check covers utilities, rent, car payment and the f-ing plane ticket. Never mind clothes or belly dance lessons. (I call this First World Problems - D.)

John, if I wanted to be you, I would be you.

Like Spiderman, but without so much angst. He's so angsty.

The only reason he said that is because he thinks my mom is hot.

Find me an avocado. (Overheard by my husband at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, 1967, and indelibly stuck in his mind.)


Eileen Goudge said...

I live in NYC where you can't help but eavesdrop. My favorite place for eavesdropping is the subway. Often you think it's a crazy person talking to the voices in their head, until you realize they're talking on their cell phone using a hands-free device. The other day I heard a woman scream (seemingly to herself)"I'm a bitch? Who you calling bitch, bitch?"

Donis Casey said...

It's gotten so you can't tell if people are on the phone or off their meds--especially with Bluetooth.

Frankie Y. Bailey said...

The good thing about that, Donis, is that now writers can walk around talking to themselves, including dialogue, and everyone assumes we're on the phone with someone.

Danny Goren said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danny Goren said...

I do much the same on occassion, but what I really like to think about is how passersby interpret my and my friends impassionate discussions about the most random things. We were walking in the city a few days ago and got some very strange looks for our agressive discussion of the fine points of pronouncing the word "Helicopter," which my bud thought should have the emphasis in a very incorrect place. Anyway, my strangeness aside, this really resonates.