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Back from the Camino de Santiago

November 2, 2011


Sometimes the late-night comedians will make a comment about how sometimes the material is literally handed to them and they don’t have to make it up. My wife, Jane, and I just finished walking the 800 km (500 miles) of the Camino de Santiago in Spain and I have to admit, I have a lot of material. 


We’ve had so many funny experiences, as well as very emotional moments, that it will be difficult to fit it all into one book. As a writer, that is a perfect situation to be in. Having too much material to work with is far better than not enough. 


When off doing research for a book one must pay constant attention to their environment. It is the things that normally go unnoticed in everyday life that can add real flavor to your writing. For example, if you watch television often (I don’t) you may have noticed that the actors never close doors after themselves. Why is that? I really don’t know but more often than not, if an actor walks through a door, they rarely close it.


Maybe it was my upbringing, we had indoor pets, so the doors always got closed. Animal owners never leave the barn door open because the animal will leave. Yet in Hollywood, the doors are always left open. Bet you never noticed, but this is exactly the sort of thing that a writer should notice, it makes for interesting things to draw attention to. Once the writer makes this observation the next step is to take this observation and work with it. Is there a historical reason? Does Hollywood do it to distract the viewer? Is it just sloppy housekeeping? The possibilities are endless.


An author needs to pay attention to such details and build upon them, or at least investigate if a detail, such as doors being left open, can be useful information. If you write humorous material, such insignificant things can play an important role in bringing a smile to a reader’s face. An author can ponder, do they leave doors open because:


  • It wasn’t in their contract to close the door.
  • They have stage hands to do that.
  • It wasn’t in the script.
  • They never lived in a barn when they were a kid.
  • Actors have very short memories and don’t recall opening the door.


You get the idea, a simple observation can lead to all sorts of possibilities. On my recent walk of the Camino de Santiago I took hundreds of pictures of what may appear to be insignificant items; wall power outlets and plumbing fixtures. I’m not planning on writing a book about hardware, but I am going to have lots of fun writing about European house wiring and plumbing and the evidence of silly installations was all around me. Let the fun begin.


Are there things that you watch for when researching your book material? Let me know.


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