One thing I struggle with in writing is the element of surprise. A good story always has surprises, don’t you think? A turn of events that the characters – and the reader — just didn’t see coming.
Writing about surprises doesn’t come easily to me because I really, really dislike surprises. For any given life event, I like to have a plan in place. And I don’t like to be surprised with gifts or parties or other things like that – it always feels vaguely undeserved and I’m never quite sure how to react.
But surprises can be good things – not just in your stories, but in life, too. I think I need to learn to be more surprise-positive.
Here’s a nice surprise I got the other day.
I had tickets to see the immersive Van Gogh art exhibit downtown on a Saturday morning. I’d had the ticket for months and had been looking forward to going by myself.
But when the day arrived, I just…forgot. I had a list of errands to run as long as my arm, I had cleaning to do, and I had to drop this kid here and that kid over there. Between all the hustle and bustle, I forgot it was art day, and my time slot came and went.
At first I thought I’d just skip it altogether. But then I thought, you know what, you really wanted to go, woman up and just march on down there. Apologize for missing your time slot and throw yourself on their mercy and just DO IT.
So I went downtown, but at the same time, my two teenaged daughters back at home worried. They were afraid I wouldn’t get in, and I’d be disappointed. They felt somewhat responsible for the hustle and bustle part.
So although I DID end up getting in, and loved the exhibit, my daughters still went ahead with a surprise – their own backup plan.
They searched the internet and figured out how to construct their own projector using a magnifying class, a box, and a cell phone. While one teen was on construction duty, the other one did internet research and assembled a set of Van Gogh slides combined with tour-guide style fun facts.
Then when I got home, they pulled me into a dark corner of the basement for my own private Van Gogh tour. It was delightful, charming, moving, touching – and so, so appreciated.
As surprises go – this one was a solid winner.
Makes for a good story, too.