Sunday, May 16, 2010

Creepy's Monday Misdemeanor






Today’s Misdemeanor :  Petty Theft

I think a lot of people have the same story.  ‘I was six years old and I stole a pack of gum from the grocery store check-out line.’

Well, so did I.  But I don’t know how many other people’s parents made them go back in and give the already-opened-and-chewing-a-piece bubblegum pack back to the security officer who they’d dooped just a few minutes before.  Except my mother, ofcourse.

My next attempt, at age thirteen, was more lucrative.  I was shopping with a group of seasoned adolescent girls who had been shoplifting ever since they realized they could.  It was ‘all the rage’.  We went into one of my favorite stores at the mall and I decided that for my first attempt, I was going to steal a necklace that was on one of the mannequins.  It had no price tag and the clasp was at eye level. 

I thought I was real smooth.  First I pretended to examine the shirt while unclasping the necklace and letting it fall to the floor.  Then I took another tour around the store before bending down to pretend to tie my shoe and picking up the fallen necklace; sticking it in my jeans pocket.  Nobody stopped me and I got away with grand jewelry theft (ok, the thing probably cost five whole dollars) scot free.
Two weeks later a few of my besties were held up at the downtown pharmacy and their parents and the police were called.  Let’s just say shoplifting went from ‘cool’ to ‘stupid’ pretty quick.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still do it….when I write.

Think about it.  How many times do we see a person, article, place, or building and think ‘This would be really useful in my story.'?  We pick it up, put in our pockets and examine it closer when we arrive in the safety of our own homes.  Most of the time, we don’t even do this intentionally.  It just happens. But if we look at our manuscripts- really look, I’m sure almost everyone will find little scraps, bits, and pieces taken from a myriad of places and people. Like somebody’s dumped out my pre-teen handbag.

Do you ever find yourself being a ‘petty thief’ for the purpose of writing?



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26 comments:

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

LOL. Yeah, I never went through a shoplifting phase because i had a friend get busted BIGTIME when I was 10, and I learned real quick that it was a bad idea.

But you're right about stealing ideas everywhere I go. I'm famous for eavesdropping on people's conversations and stealing their dialogue. And sadly, my CPs have given me notes saying certain things in my draft need to be changed because they remind them of other books. So it happens. The important thing is to go back and change it. :)

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

haha, I was too much of a chicken to shop lift. I stole one thing from a corner shop once and was riddled with so much guilt that I promised I'd never do it again.

Cool analogy. Yeah, I suppose I've got a mis match of my whole life in my writing. Even characters have stolen parts - the body of my mother, the mind of my father, the hair of my sister etc etc. Gee wizz, I'm Frankenstein! lol

India Drummond said...

Definitely so! I think that's why my work has gotten better as I've gotten older ... I've travelled more and have more folks to steal from, even if it's just a look, a setting... once I stole a scarf from a man in a crowd (fictionally speaking, that is!)

salarsenッ said...

The shoplifting thing is classic. *Great SCENE* But you already know that.

Sure. I've read articles or the real life events of a person and think 'Neat. That'd be cool to use.' The trick is to make it your own. I think I've put my quirky twist on a few 'real life' scenes. Heck, most of those scenes were tweaked from my own experiences. Hee...

MissV said...

My jaw hit the floor when I read that you still do it. I was thinking "WTF?" then I read the rest of the sentence and caught up with the rest of the class.

JustineDell said...

Totally! Totally! Totally! I'm guilty of grand theft! The people...the places...everything! If I see it and an idea pops into my head, I use it. And I don't feel guilty at all. LoL. ;-)

And...I had the mom who made me return the stickers I stole from a shoe store at the age of 10. I mean...stickers? Why couldn't it have been something useful...like a chocolate bar?!? ;-)

~JD

Tessa Conte said...

hmm nope never shoplifted anything though I did once walk out of a bookstore with a book by mistake - I'd started reading in the store and walked out pretty much with my nose in the pages. Surprisingly, noone stopped me...

And yes, I find myself "lifting" stuff out of real life that ends up in my writing, although mostly I do it by mistake or because I wasn't paying attention...oh, wait, that's what happened with the book... oh dear.

Slamdunk said...

Glad you recovered from the dark side.

Yes, I am a blogging repeat shoplifting offender--but do abide by the blogging rules and link where I found the creative gems.

DL Hammons said...

I like to think of it not as thievery...but rather...recycling. :)

Susan Fields said...

I get ideas from all over, and I'm not the least bit shy about stealing them. :)

Aubrie said...

Great post! I get ideas all over the place: movies, books, real life. And then mix them up so much that it comes out as something different :)

Ellie said...

I so agree, we all do it, in small doses! I think all artist, do this
take your spin on the artistic wheel, see what you would do with that! I was too scared to shoplift; I see my daughter's friends toying with the idea. I had a feeling one day in the store. My daughter ran into her friends, they went off to look at clothes. My daughter came back wanting to hang with me. I knew
we checked out and left the store. I then told her, I knew what was going on. She said, I wanted no part of it. Older kids were daring the younger ones.
Sad...today isn't as forgiving!

Clara said...

I think nowadays we have to combine exhisting ideas or thoughts, in order to make a cake. Just like a recipe, if used correctfully, that will help make something we write work or not.

So I totally agree, we sometimes steal something (I do it from movies specially, its too hard not to...)

The Empress said...

I still from my 3 kids conversations all the time.

Kids are just so perfect at cutting to the chase. No extra words..and they say so much in so little.

Carolyn V. said...

I think we can get great ideas from other things like movies, stories, awesome rock songs. But I try not to copy someone word for word. I had that happen to me and I was not happy about it. So I do my best not to do that to someone else.

Dawn said...

Great anaology! I steal from real life all the time for my writing. The one time I did steal for me, ahem, I got caught. And like your mom, mine marched me right back to the store. I was 12 and had broken TWO rules - I'd stolen mascara, and wasn't allowed to wear make-up. Bad, Dawn.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great post. I steal things from reeal life too, but I like to call it borrowing.:)

Caledonia Lass said...

Oooh yes. But I agree with Isabella...I'm just borrowing it. ;) If I am writing something current, I tend to use the areas I know very well. I grew up in Tucson. I know that place like the back of my hand and could wander around blindfolded and tell you where I was.

To me, I'd like to think that my "borrowing" connects me more to the reader. Getting them to say, "Hey! I know that place!" I say this all the time while reading any of J. A. Jance's books that deal with Joanna Brady in Cochise County. ;)

Elizabeth Briggs said...

My friends also had a shoplifting phase. I went along with it but was always uncomfortable with it. Then the friend who started it got caught at Caesar's Palace in Vegas and her entire family was banned from ever going there again (although not sure how they enforce that). So that ended that phase.

I steal things for my novel all the time though!

T.J. Carson said...

I do it all the time. I usually steal lines from some songs that I relate to my novel. Just one-liner shout-outs, that's what I think about them. I get ideas from songs too. The title of my book came from a song lol. I'm a petty shoplifter :)

WhisperingWriter said...

Oh yeah, something will happen and I'll go, "Totally going in my novel. Or blog."

I'm debating going camping just to have a funny experience to write about it.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Guilty as charged. :D

I'm not going to get arrested am I?

Theresa Milstein said...

Thanks for sharing your... past.

Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer is all about how she gets ideas from other novels. She wrote a whole book about stealing/borrowing/being inspired by other books. I guess it's legal.

Shelley Sly said...

Excellent post! When I was 8, I accidentally walked out of a pharmacy with a toothbrush, but my mom didn't make me go back in and confess. She was mad, though.

I totally steal in my writing. In my next book, I'm planning on using a line from a girl I used to babysit. She used to say the funniest things. I think she'd be flattered, actually. :)

Angela M. said...

Yep, it's people I steal the most. I'm a total kidnapper! I'll even use people's real names (of course, I ask first before I do this). I love to people watch, and that's always a great wealth of ideas. I love the parallel you draw here!

notesfromnadir said...

I have to admit to being impressed w/ the way you so patiently stole that necklace. Really, you were quite clever about it! :)

What we do isn't petty theft or any other type of crime, really. Seeing an occurrence that will fit nicely into your book or article is inspiration. Just think if it happened to be illegal, what would become of fiction or fantasy or any other genre not actually considered nonfiction?!!!

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