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Monday, July 02, 2007

Storydust - the most obvious source of all

I've been hawking around this idea of Storydust for a while now. In fact the datestamp on the original article says Feb 2006. Some people like it, some people don't like it, some find it a pointless buzz word for an activity that writers do anyway.

I guess it's somewhere inbetween them all. That's what time has taught me.

Just to recap, storydust is a way of thinking about collecting ideas. It is an analogy: In outer space, matter and gas collect together over time, very slowly, using gravity. Eventually you have a ball of heavy matter. This then collects more space dust. It gets bigger and bigger until it gets so heavy that it crushes itself and a reaction starts in the centre. A lot of residual dust and gas is thrown off and you are left with a bright burning star.

This can happen with your story. You want your story to burst into a bright singular point of great ideas. But you need a lot of 'dust and gas' first.

The good news is we see story dust everyday. Over the past year I've written about dust sources: various on-line collections, other films, real-life events, even in email spam!

But, like a lot of things I blog about, it might be overly complex. Yes, we can find storydust in all these things. But isn't the most obvious source in fact - ourselves, other human beings that we meet everyday.

Here is the real-life anecdote that made me think about this. I used to go to a sandwich bar called 'Grub' in Bournemouth. I'm sure you can imagine it from the name alone. There was a girl who worked in there who made a nice sandwich but always had quite a miserable face on her. Whatever. Just make the sandwich dear - and no sauce. And give us a slice of that tiffin will ya? Ta.

This was about 4 years ago. I met her again recently. Georgina (as I discovered her name was) works with the youngsters I've been helping out with their film. She has been studying hard, trying to hold down 4 part-time jobs to pay her way through the training period. But she now has a smile on her face.

That's what real people are like, that's what they are doing. Everyone is interesting, everyone has a story. But how often do you discover it? Maybe you are not as judgemental as I obviously am - dimissing the girl in a sandwich shop. But maybe you are. And maybe, like me, you are missing out on the rich experiences, even if they are second-hand, needed to be a writer.

Everyone you meet is your raw material. Get out there. Talk to one new person everyday. Or rather get to know one new person everyday.

We are stardust.
Joni Mitchell

Tiffin recipe to create the photo above: .
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potdoll said...

i'm well into the story dust theory. i have a file on my desk top called Story Dust and I pop little bits and bobs in there all the time. I've already got a play on the go out of a particle i dropped into the file.

Tim Clague said...

Yes! It hasn't all been for nothing!

Sal said...

Actually I totally believe in story dust - or, in my case "The Shoebox of Notebooks" - I write down all sorts of bits I think about, read about, or overhear, and they all go in a notebook then when the notebook is full it goes in the shoebox. Maybe I should have a look in there....

Tim Clague said...

A shoebox of storydust - well there's a title for a start!