Monday, July 10, 2017

You're More Than A Writer

by Peter Leavell @peterleavell

Writers with hidden cases of introversion crowded into the dining hall. The chit chat lingered in the air with smells of perfume, sweat, and crushed dreams. A typical general fiction writers conference.

We sat and ate. And then the keynote speaker curled over his half-emptied plate, struggling for breath. The president of the writers group stood, set a hand on his shoulder, and asked if it was okay to proceed with the Heimlich Maneuver.

Red and blue-faced Mr. Keynote managed to nod.

The president took up the embarrassing spoon position and, with a quick flick of both fists, saved the keynote’s life. Writers grabbed napkins from empty tables and in ten seconds, any mess that remained was cleaned, leaving only a vestige of embarrassment and a round of applause for a new hero.

Any emergency that took place in the dining hall was covered by an expert somewhere in the crowd.


I think the idea write what you know has not been so much debunked as much as it’s morphed into go learn something new and write about it.

So, if war broke out inside the wide expanse of the dining hall, there were weapon experts, generals, soldiers, medics, and quartermasters. 

We had authorities in avalanche, tsunami, zombie apocalypse, and Biblical revivals. I was begging for someone to need an expert on the Civil War, Constantine, sarcasm, Teddy Roosevelt, or any western.

You're more than a writer—you're a superhero. With sporadically limited or excessive quantity of knowledge.

If an emergency arises:
1: Assess yourself and the emergency— are you too panicked to help? Shrieking tells others you’re out of the game and no one will rely on you.

2: You’re in the public eye. Ask yourself, do I have the moral high ground here (am I contributing to a need or am I oppressing people)?

3: If step #2 clears, ask the victim if they need help. No one likes the Heimlich when they don’t need it. If yes, proceed.

4: Morph into the character for which you’ve studied the subject. That’s your main superpower. You can be Mr. Moretti, the racer you created and roared onto the backroads to drive 145 MPH to understand him better. Or Killmousky, the cat you pretended to be for a day so you could get into the mind of a secondary character.

Resolution: Solve the problem, slip back into whatever character you decided to use when talking to people, and listen for either applause or the clicking of handcuffs to take you away.

You know things. Odd things that, I’m noticing, the general public loves. Bits of facts and figures, twists on how to look at things, corners of the Internet no one has found. 

Enjoy being that person!

Peter Leavell, a 2007 graduate of Boise State University with a degree in history, was the 2011 winner of Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and 2013 Christian Retailing's Best award for First-Time Author. Peter and his family live in Boise, Idaho. Learn more about Peter's books, research, and family adventures at