Friday, June 27, 2014

52 Author Dates ~ Week 26

Where I thought I'd take a vow of silence

Take A Vow Of Silence

When I read ahead in my 52 Dates For Writers to this week’s challenge, I figured I might have to sneak off to a distant leafy monastery. Somewhere city folks escape to collect their thoughts in the absence of voices.

Instead, the challenge was to pick a place with plenty of conversation and take a vow of silence in the midst of rush hour. 

Listen - making notes of any conversations or lines that intrigue. Ignore the mundane. Catch something beautiful or mysterious... I was told 

So I chose a local restaurant where the breakfast rush hour has kept me busy eavesdropping before. (Please don’t judge. Eavesdropping is in a writer’s DNA.) Only this time, I sat down with the lunch crowd. 

And I wasn’t disappointed. Two young mums came in with a chatty toddler. A young Asian man brought his elegant grandparents in for a quick bite, and a group of suited men took their spot in a shady corner to sort out business. 

Where I ended up taking a vow of silence
Their voices carried across to where I’d been writing for about an hour before they arrived. But I set my words aside to listen to theirs. 

I took my vow of silence. And they filled it. 

The men in the corner gave me nothing. They spoke in hushed tones in a language I figured might be Arabic. When they weren’t talking their guffaws tumbled over the tables. 

The mums relaxed and shared a string of stories interrupted only when they had to corral the toddler. My favourite line from their table... “Keep your mouth and ice-cream off me.” 

But the line which caught my attention over all the chatter and kitchen clatter came from the young Asian man.

“What do you recommend?” he took the menu from the waiter. “I need something soft for grandpa. He’s got broken teeth.” 

Shh... listen
He’s got broken teeth.

I made haste to write that down. 

They ordered their risotto and a pot of tea for grandma and teeth-troubled grandpa. 

But all I wanted to hear was how grandpa’s teeth had crumbled. And I really wanted it to be something exotic. Had he sipped on too many childhood sweet teas from his father’s tea trolley in a busy railway station in Singapore? Had he once been a famous fairy floss maker who made a living touring the streets of Hong Kong with his sugar spinner? 

Just that one detail about the broken teeth lifted the dialogue. A little more detail than what you might hear when patrons order in a restaurant, and I was immediately engaged. As I should be with interesting dialogue. 

And that’s exactly why 52 Dates for Writers encourages a vow of silence

Where do you like to eavesdrop? (Don't pretend you don't.) What interesting conversations have made your ears prick up? 

Blessings for a wonderful weekend,