Everyone has a story to tell.
I spent a week in Las Vegas two weeks back, and while I’m happy to be back on the East Coast it was an experience I’ll never forget! The lights, the sounds, the sheer amount of people crowded into the deceptively small-looking Strip…it got me thinking.
There are millions of people all over the country, all living their lives a little differently from those just a few towns over. And while we might all listen to the same pop music and eat a generic pizza, there are more differences among us all than those things that might unite us. You call it pop, I call it soda, and still others tonic. Teenagers in cities everywhere flirt and fight and try to get into college—but they each fill out their application resumes differently.
In Boston, kids play soccer, join the debate team, and go to the Cape. In Los Angeles, they surf, build their Instagram following, and eat fish tacos. In Las Vegas, I saw the younger generations breakdancing on the streets, strutting around in showgirl getup, and hawking Final Four gear. Each has a story to tell, and it makes me want to explore each one through my writing.
This regionalization of things can be applied to my writing. A few months ago I mentioned one of my dormant story ideas revolved around a group of teens working together to save their local hangout—the shopping mall. This simple (too simple, really) premise was born from a stop at the King of Prussia mall in Pennsylvania. A large section had been shut down for renovations, and it got me thinking what if they never finished? What if the mall just kept falling apart until someone swept in to tear it down? I could see it now—their rallying cry might be the chorus of the Counting Crows hit “Big Yellow Taxi.”
But that same group of teens in Boston might be a group of musicians promoting the indie scene at one of the many smaller clubs in Boston or Cambridge. In Las Vegas, perhaps it’s a group of kids who are spending the summer before college away from home, trying to sneak into casinos and swanky pool parties, paying the rent by performing on the street while also avoiding the vices of Sin City. In Sarah Dessen’s literary universe, they’d be lazing around the beach at night while working at a local business during the day.
Each of these groups, the same age, doing their own thing so much different than the others, solely based on where they live.
It’s amazing, isn’t it? Everyone has a story to tell—all we have to do is take the time to figure out what that is.