This section of the book is about The Writing Frame of mind. When I read the first short piece in this section, my mind wandered off on a tangent. Anne Lamott was speaking about paying attention and communicating what is going on. That brought to mind an incident that later became a short story called "A Small Smile." The incident and my observation during that brief moment has played in several of my stories. Not as it happened but what I learned from it.
As a new student nurse I was scared during the first time I worked with patients. We will not go into the comedy of errors that occurred but with an encounter with a patient. He'd had a leg amputated for gangrene and might lose more. Yet there as a special cheerfulness about him. As I was dashing around not accomplishing anything of use he called me aside. "Just smile. That's better medicine than anything the doctors or pain medicine can bring."
Those words were buried in my memory until I began to write. The patient became a dying man. The me became an older nurse who had no family or even close friends. She worked nights. The friendship that developed between the two became love but a love that wouldn't ever come to fruition. All that came from a short observation made by an eighteen year old frightened young woman.
That brings me back to the point of what I found in this essay. Keep your eyes and emotions open to the things you see around you. As a writer you never know what bits and pieces of real life you can twist and change to make a story work.