So about two years ago I was able to watch a black bear, who had been hanging around some houses, be trapped and tagged. It was an amazing experience and I used a lot of that information in my work in progress (WIP), Face Off. What I didn't do was touch the bear. The people who were tagging him were working and I felt lucky just to be there to observe. I wasn't going to ask if I could pet the tranquilized, 200 pound bear.
Then, last week, when we were in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, we found a brochure for the Oswald Bear Ranch. They rescue bear cubs from all over the country and currently are the permanent home for about 42 bears. In order to support that (and maybe themselves) they charge a small admission, sell souveneirs, and for $5 you can have your picture taken with one of the youngest cubs. I couldn't resist. Off to Oswald's we went. You can watch me and some of my family in this video. That's my son feeding the bear Fruit Loops. Now the nature lover part of me says this is exploitation of the bears and definitely not the healthiest of treats. But the practical part of me says that if the cub eats fruit loops for three months (until he's too big to pet) that will go a long way toward paying for his future keep. The older bears eat apples.
And, aaah, and the writer part - now I know how a brown bear feels. THAT will be in a book. And the little guy was so cute.
Try this: Write down three adjectives you think describe the bear. Now write five words about what you think he was feeling, tasting, smelling etc. Next, write a paragraph - five or six sentences - about this scene from the bear's point of view. If he could talk, what would he say? What would he like more than anything? Re-read your paragraph. Does it give you an idea for a story? Your idea doesn't have to be from the bear's point of view, although it can be. It might be totally different. Sometimes one experience (like watching a crazy bear video) triggers an entirely different idea. Our minds are wonderful things. Honor your ideas. Now go write!