By Rachel Hauck
I was here on Sunday.
The beautiful Oregon coast.
Living in the southeast on the Atlantic, I don’t see huge rocks as part of the seascape.
The sand was smooth, yet hard like concrete. Except when you stood still while the tide moved over your feet.
Then the sand flowed out to sea, leaving your feet to sink and stick in the mud like surface.
The tide moved quick and cold. The waves were turbulent.
And it was a glorious scene.
I loved it.
The infamous Haystack Rock is at Canon Beach.
After photographing the rocks above, Hubby and I started for Haystack Rock.
My phone was low on battery so I guarded my usage. Taking only the best pictures. My agent was set to call and I didn’t want to miss him. We were meeting up for lunch.
Here’s all I remember: I took a picture of the waves crashing against Haystack Rock. Hubby called out that the tide was coming in and to hurry… (or get wet)
Then a young couple asked me to take their picture. So I did.
Turning to walk back, I patted my front pocket for my phone. It wasn’t there.
In fact, it wasn’t in any pocket.
My phone was in the Pacific.
Pictures, contacts, everything.
Yea, sure, it’s backed up to the Cloud. but a phone in today’s world is a lifeline.
I had to call a friend to hunt down my agent’s cell number because I knew he’d be calling… “Where are you?”
“Okay, yawn, Rachel, why are you telling us this? We get you were ‘…to careless to tuck away your phone properly.'”
I”m telling you because this is life!
How can I use losing my cell phone in the Pacific to deepen the emotions of a character?
How can I use the subsequent debate and abyss of the cell phone plan world to apply to a character? One who is either very angry or frustrated.
What about opposite responses. I lose my phone and gain joy!
I’m free from the need to constantly check email, Facebook and twitter.
What if a protagonist lost her cell phone in the ocean and everything in her life changed?
Sounds like a weak premise on the surface but there are all kinds of implications, symbolism and metaphor.
When a character loses something — a phone, a spouse, a child, a dream, even something as small as a key — your story has all kinds of potential.
What happens when your protgonist loses her phone? Or the keys to her apartment?
Loss is always a great way to start a story and explore all kinds of emotion.
Loss often takes us to a dark place. The feeling of being out of control. Perhaps buried memories surface, old pains become new again.
For the novelist, everything in life is fodder for our stories.
When we’re happy. We we have new experiences. When we meet new people, hear new musics, watch an impactful movie.
Instead of bristling when hardship comes or we have a bad day, we should be furiously taking notes on how we feel and why…
Novelist can put psychiatrist out of business. Right? We work through our issues as we work through our stories.
Back to losing my phone. Ah, I don’t mind so much. It’s a bit inconvenient. It’s a bit annoying. But it’s also freeing.
What’s it like to feel free? Untethered? More fodder for stories.
A friend of ours was homeless for awhile. Lived in a tent village by the railroad tracks. He said, “I didn’t know how little I could live without. It’s kind of nice.”
So here’s a writing exercise for you:
Take ten minutes and jot down one of the happiest times of your life. How did you feel? For how long? Who shared the day with you? What did that time produce in you? Long term or short? What was the day like? How did this day impact the following days?
Write down one of the hardest days of your life. What happened? Use the prompts from above, or make up your own, and take note of that season in your life.
What about something like my experience. You lost your phone, car keys, glasses, contacts, address book. What was the outcome? Sometimes losing car keys can cause the worst arguments!
What spiritual ramifications did these events have, if any, on your life.
Use life! Power your experiences and emotions in to your stories. It’s what makes them a breed apart.
Her novel, Once Upon A Prince, was a 2014 Christy Award Finalist.