“You should put that in a book.”
Every writer has heard this — from friends whose baby has just shouted a swear word, from family when the Thanksgiving turkey ends up in the back yard with the dog, and from the driver as the bus plunges into the ravine.
Most often, I don’t use that material. It doesn’t fit the story I’m writing, or any story I might write. For example, despite your enthusiasm I don’t see myself writing a book about:
1. Things the window washer has seen on the job.
2. The nightmare of that endless PTA meeting.
3. Your divorce.
And sometimes I decide not to write odd real-life incidents into my books — generally because nobody would believe the story, even though it really happened. Several examples:
1. On a two-lane highway in the southwest, my dad pulled out to pass a slow-moving car. As our station wagon accelerated past it in the left lane, a third car pulled even with ours, passing all of us on the left-hand shoulder. It was a Cadillac with longhorns on the grille.
2. My brother once stopped at a traffic light next to a Rolls Royce. He promptly rolled down his window and called to the driver: “Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?” Huffiness ensued.
3. At Newark airport, the man ahead of me in the security line took off his belt and then kept going. He unzipped and dropped his trousers. To the floor.
On second thought, some of these might just end up in print.