This month’s post for my publisher has to do with the necessary evil: making ends meet with a day job. But, it doesn’t have to be a total waste of time away from the writing we all love. Let me explain: (following originally published in a post here.)
All I really want to do is write all day. Even the editing part. Hell, even the writing the book synopsis part. But I can’t. I have a day job.
Lots, ok most, writers have day jobs. We toil away in our cubicles, behind our cash registers, or in our classrooms while story plot lines untangle themselves in our minds only to be knotted beyond recognition by the time we can sit in front of our keyboards again. I’m as guilty as the next writer of grumbling about it and pining my life away for the elusive “I write for a living” holy grail.
Since there doesn’t seem to be a winning lottery ticket or massive inheritance in my near future, I have to go to work, but I don’t have to have such a narrow view of it. You see, as a writer, work can be a microcosm of characters.
My parents and I were very active in our community theaters when I was growing up. Mom and I were the only ones on stage and would go to the malls, coffee shops, and other public places to “people watch” when we were figuring out what our characters needed to talk like or move like. We mentally collected walks, postures, accents, speech patterns, and facial expressions to distribute to the various characters we played over the years. As a writer, I find myself doing the same thing. So, why leave that skill at the malls and coffee shops? Why not take that skill to work to give my written characters the same life?
I have a unique advantage. Maybe only people who work at the malls, movie theaters, and other adult-run kid hangouts have a better advantage. You see, I teach middle school. What does that mean for my character research? I have a wide range of ages in the adults in the building and the kids in the halls and classrooms to study. The variety of language, speech patterns, social interactions, body language, and clothes to describe is vast. Stereotypes are knee deep and unique personalities surround me every day. I may be doing the teaching, but I’m also studying. Just not the stuff in the books.
Think of all the weirdo coworkers you have. Or not weirdos. Maybe just the normal people that have a way of moving, talking, dressing, laughing, that you’d know anywhere. Give those things to your characters to give them authentic life. To remind a reader of someone they met once at the DMV. A kid they were behind in the movie theater concession stand line over-trying to impress the girl from algebra class who happened to be in line ahead of him. Make them real and relatable by giving them features from real people.
The best part of doing character studies at work is that things are constantly changing with people even in mundane jobs. There’s always something new you can use. People change their habits with stress, joy, frustration, illness, or a great date the night before.
Work may take you away from putting words on a page, but it won’t keep you from giving your characters their special quirks, if you’re paying attention.
As a teacher, the first nine weeks of school can feel painfully long, especially as the preteens get antsy. This year, the weather took a turn for the cooler a tad late but just in time for Fall Break and both couldn’t be more welcome.
Making the most of the time off began with getting the house cleaned so I could actually relax instead of thinking of everything I still had to do. Because cleaning and laundry are the banes of my existence, my deal with myself was writing had to wait til the house was clean. So, break out the Clorox, I have a book to finish! Now that the kitchen is clean, all I need now is some pumpkin bread in the oven. (Don’t tell me to go get some pumpkin spice coffee. That’s just nasty.)
The next adventure began when I had an unexpected free afternoon. So, mini me and I decided to take a stroll through our beautiful old town. While my heart may always be in New Orleans, I gotta say Franklin isn’t a bad place to be in the fall. Beautiful old homes, lovely cemeteries, sweet people, delicious treats, and plenty of pumpkins. We call these outings “picture walks” because we can’t help photographing the pretty little town. Come take a picture walk with us!
Carnton Plantation and cemetery
Rest Haven and the old City Cemetery
Historic Downtown homes
Farmers market pumpkins and a sweet treat stop
Hope you enjoyed that little stroll through historic Franklin! Now, go make some fall memories of your own and share them with me!
It’s that time again! Time for my monthly post on my awesome publisher’s blog! This month, with all the news about Hurricane Frances and worrying about those in her path, it got me thinking about my own storm stories. As a kid in Louisiana, I remember the eerie green sky, the stillness of the eye of the storms, and the time my dad and brother went up on the roof in the eye of one to replace shingles that were blown off before the next wall hit.
But the one that still gives me chills was the night we rode out Hurricane Andrew. Read all about it now on the Pandamoon Publishing blog here.
I’m so excited to be able to share a little bit of news with y’all about the launch of Crescent City Moon! Be on the look out for it in Spring 2019. What else happens in the spring? Allergies. Right. But more importantly, that’s Mardi Gras season! I mean, if we’re going to celebrate something, let’s do it all at once like only NOLA can!
In the meantime, look for updates and other fun things along the way!
It’s been a fun week being mentioned in an interview with a best-selling author Christine Gabriel, which you can read here, and being interviewed by another best-selling author Cheri Champagne! (See the link in the blog post here.)
Today, I had the pleasure of writing the featured blog post for Pandamoon Publishing, Know What You Write. It’s something near and dear to my heart in several ways: writing, and New Orleans. And, a great way to get to know me as an author! Check it out!