Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day Jobs

Day jobs. Most of us who aspire to be authors have them. Whether you are a real estate broker, a biochemist, an English professor, a transportation entrepreneur, or simply play an engineer on television, you have an occupation that pays the bills that come from living in the world. In short, it's that thing that you (the undiscovered genius that you are) do between opportunities to write.

Now, I don't wish to say that all day jobs are bad. There are people in the world who enjoy what they do. People who happily (yea, even cheerfully) march through the daily routine as if it weren't wearing away at their lives. I suspect that you, dear readers, might even know one or two of them. Yet, this is not entirely the case for the majority of us.

Allow me to illustrate. In my case, my relationship with my day job fluctuates from feckless camaraderie to something just shy of a postal apocalypse. On the dark days, I feel as if the corporate miasma is slowly bleeding away my soul. On good days, I smile and whatnot.

But fear not, fellow drones, for not all is gloom, despair, and agony on us. I have found a light in the darkness and it is not necessarily an oncoming train. For there, among your colleagues and bosses, are the characters you are looking for (dangling participle, notwithstanding). I'm not saying that you should place your coworkers verbatim into your manuscript. However, there are characteristics by the metric buttload that you can mine for use with your fiction. Even the dullness of your average accountant can be used as a foil against a more excitable character. The stubbornness of the nearly retired person down the hall, the egotism of the exceptionally confident fellow three cubes down, the unwavering (and slightly unnerving) cheerfulness of the woman at the front desk, and the bipolar swings of the middle aged middle manager are all rare earth minerals to be gleaned from the dross of the day job.

So be vigilant, true believers. Observe and take note of those around you. And, should anyone in particular completely cheese you off, write them into your novel and Martin them.


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