About once a month, I sign books for Tea & Sympathy, a bookstore that travels to Scottish festivals all over the West. There I meet interesting folk who refresh my spirit and feed my muse.
Attending the fairs is a cross-section of humanity: distinguished old gentlemen in tartan ties, goth chicks in torn fishnets, redheaded toddlers with plastic swords, brawny lads sporting kilts and boots, Hispanic men in Guinness t-shirts, Scottish dancers--stick-thin and parchment pale, black women in the Purple Hat Society, tattooed bikers with clan badges, Queen Mary’s in full regalia, bored teenagers, tipsy bagpipers, little old British ladies with twinkling eyes...
All of them have a story if you care to listen. One proud woman can trace her ancestry back to Robert the Bruce. Another wishes she had time to write a book of her own. A bleary-eyed man wants to tell me all about his time in the war. A giggling newlywed wants to share photos of her honeymoon in Scotland. Some of them I’ve spoken with before. Some of them are strangers. But there’s something about meeting an author that brings out the storyteller in them.
And honestly, I enjoy listening. A writer never knows where inspiration will turn up (though to my chagrin, it’s often in the shower or while driving a car). I find that the more I immerse myself in the real world, mingling with real people who relate real experiences, the more real I can make my own stories.
Stories to keep you up all night.
Riding to the rescue April 2006