Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympic Fever

I'm not a TV watcher. Frankly, I find it boring. And I get sick of sitting. It's hard to keep still through an entire program... But every two years, I suffer through two straight weeks of intense television addiction. Why? I love the olympics. Any sport, any time, anywhere. I'll watch curling and snowboarding moguls (one of my all-time favorites) and figure skating--even men's figure skating which I have to admit seems like an oxymoron to me. I'll cover my eyes during the downhill skiing and cry when a speed skater falls. The olympics are awesome.

Last night, as I was glued to the pairs figure skating finals, I couldn't help but wonder why the olympics have me so enthralled. I'm no athlete. (Okay, my friends and family are laughing at the severity of that understatement.) And I have no particular interest in sports beyond the olympic games. (Besides, of course, my six-year-old son's hockey games.) But I'm wide-eyed and transfixed as the world competes... Why?

It struck me last night for the very first time that my love of the olympics has little to do with sports and much to do with story. Imagine that. Me. An author. Interested in story. ;)

Have you ever noticed that every single athlete in the olympics has a story? I mean a really compelling, often heart-wrenching, potentially life-changing story. There's Alex Bilodeau, the freestyle mogul skiier who won Canada's first olympic gold on home soil. His inspiration? His older brother, a young man who has struggled with cerebral palsy his whole life. I dare you to look at a photo of the two of them together and not tear up. Then there's the Chinese pairs figure skating duo Shen and Zhao. Their 18-year long tale is filled with romance (they fell in love and got married), twists (they retired and then re-entered competition), and a happily-ever-after ending (they won gold!). Best of all, they're considered the "grandparents" of the sport--who knew that at 31 and 36 you could be considered over the hill? Of course, there are also the sad stories. I wept over Nodar Kumaritashvili and his fatal accident. I'll never look at luge quite the same way, nor will I ever take for granted the fact that these athletes--all of them--risk much in an effort to wow the world.

Don't you just love it? Such life, such raw humanity and expectation and even faith all contained in one moment-by-moment experience! I find it absolutely riveting.

People often ask me where I get my ideas for my books. I gotta tell you: it's right here. Not necessarily at the olympics, but maybe. It's in the stories of other people, those moments when life is so real and beautiful and full of hope and possiblity that your soul swells in awe of it. And in those moments that break your heart. That make you realize how short and fragile and fleeting our lives really are. Like a vapor, a mist...

Looking for a story idea? Open your eyes.

Question for you: Where do you get your inspiration from?


  1. The story I'm working on now actually stemmed from a baby shower I went to. A girl I'd gone to church with was pregnant with twins, and I went to school with her cousin. We'll call the pregnant lady A and her cousin, the girl I went to school with, M. Well, M had just finished up her first year at college, and I was about to graduate high school. M was going to Japan for several weeks for study abroad and when she came back, was going to stay with A for the summer and help her and her husband with the twins. I thought that sounded like an interesting lead into a story, only I tweaked it and changed the girls to sisters instead of cousins, and the younger sister was only coming back from her first year at school and not an overseas country. And that's how my story came about.

  2. I agree. It is captivating to see someone living in the moment, living out their lifelong dream right in front of me. If you want some new story ideas, lets have coffee and I will tell you some stories of some beautiful families I know and see regularly. Anonymously, of course, unless you make a novel of them...then they get commission.

  3. Lauren, thanks for sharing the story behind your story! I love hearing where people get their ideas.

    Nikolyn, I have my next few books planned, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't love to have coffee anyway! :)