Czeslaw Milosz suggests that there is only one big theme for beginning writers, and that is humiliation. He says, ” . . . open the treasury of your unrevealed and unconfessed, even to yourselves, experiences. These are the moments when you were, in one way or another, humiliated. Remember only those instants sticking in you like thorns, start harrowing them, and describe them in detail.”
I’m not a beginning writer and/but there are things that, in a way, I’ve never gotten over. These turn up in disguise in my work and propel, sometimes, the whole enterprise. I was about ten and on vacation with my parents at Lake of the Ozarks. (Now Branson, MO.) I was skinny and self-conscious, like a lot of kids. Walking to the dock one day wearing a stupid swim suit with fish on it, some older girls laughed. Maybe not even at me, but that perceived humiliation is Ben’s in STONER & SPAZ. Lucky me, huh?
Why be humiliated about humiliation? Why be embarrassed about those experiences. Revisit them. Have them over for drinks and chips. Tell them you’ve got some work for them to do, but first a nice dinner with lots of white wine!