I measure my life out in scenes written. How did my day go? “I wrote two scenes today, and started a third. So good!” or “I just couldn’t get into it today. I wrote one scene, but it was like pulling teeth. There’s always tomorrow, right?”
I realize that makes me seem like a workaholic, and I very likely am! It’s just socially acceptable to be a workaholic author. We’re expected to walk around with stories rattling around in our heads all the time. So the fact that I never really stop thinking about books and stories doesn’t surprise anyone.
When I graduated from university, I applied for a job as a store manager. I had already been working part time at a camera store, and I thought that management would give me more flexibility for my writing. (It didn’t turn out that way–no shock, right?)
Anyway, while I was managing a small store in a wealthy part of Toronto, a lady came into the store pushing a stroller. She threw a pile of negatives down onto the counter and said, “Just print the ones from the birthday party.”
“One of each of all of these?” I asked.
“No! The ones from the party!”
She continued to escalate, shouting at me that I should just do as she said, stomping around. I couldn’t possibly know which photos to print without her help in choosing them.
“I can’t deal with this!” she yelled. “My husband is on a business trip! I do not have the energy for this!”
She went out of the store for a minute, and then came back in and ranted some more. Finally, she took her negatives and left, and I just sort of stood there, stunned. There was a lady in the shop, and she said,
“That wasn’t about you. Don’t take it personally. I know who she is. Do you want to know what that was about?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Her husband was on a business trip,” the woman said, using air quotes. “With the secretary. He’s cheating on her right now, and there’s nothing she can do about it. So maybe that will make you feel a bit better.”
In a way it did–not for vengeance, just for perspective. And ever after, whenever I see someone melting down in public, I remember that poor lady who didn’t know what to do when her marriage was imploding, so she yelled at the manager of the camera shop.
It made me a more empathic person. It also made me a better writer. I didn’t take that outburst personally. I used it for writing fodder, instead. Because whenever I look around and see confusing outbursts, or behaviour that doesn’t make sense to me, my novelist brain kicks into gear and I start making up backstory to make the behaviour make emotional sense.
And all of that goes into writing my scenes day in and day out. It’s never wasted!
Don’t forget–you can find my bestselling Amish romance at Harlequin’s Love Inspired as well as Kensington Books! And all of them are sold at Walmart, Target, and at booksellers everywhere.