Despite Dr. Hallock’s assertion that writing for money ruins writers, I prefer writing for money to almost anything else. Of course, I’m trained for little else that pays a living wage, so I find myself writing for survival. I’m OK with that; I understand that I’m not exactly Keats or, sadly, even Dorothy Parker. Oh, how I would love to be Dorothy Parker. My friends could call me “Dot” and I could assault them with my rapier wit… but I digress. I write for money, period. I write for myself, too, but it’s a Maslow-type situation here: I have to make sure I have a roof over my head and food to eat before I can get creative.
So, of course, I found a small way to turn this carless experiment into paid work. No, I’m not writing about going without a car for a month – I did that last year and, anyway, lately you can’t swing a bankrupt media empire without hitting a first-person journalist report of reducing one’s carbon footprint.
No, I’m writing about stories. I’ve long been fascinated with people. I believe that everyone has a story, and I’m nosy enough – Thanks, Mom! – to pick at the edges of people’s lives. I don’t want to know what happened to them when they were eight or where they went to high school, but I like to taste the flavor of other people’s existence.
Every time I ride the Beach Trolley I end up smushed elbow-to-elbow with those existences. Finally, it dawned on me: I’m not the only one. We are a society of voyeurs. People love stories. That guy with the mullet (I’ll let you decide if I’m referring to the fish or the haircut) on the bus? Yup, he’s got a story. The old man with a walker and Navy tattoos? You betcha.
Every other week I’ll write Trolley Tales for the Pinellas Beaches Patch, an AOL company that’s made the plunge into local news. Click here to read the first one, published today, with apologies to Dr. H.