When I leave my day job, I’m pretty good at leaving it behind when I turn my office lights off. Yet with writing I don’t seem to be able to do it. It isn’t just that I’m thinking about my novel I’m writing, I become obsessed with people-watching when I’m out and about. It’s like I’m constantly casting characters and scenarios out in my head.
I adore airports for people-watching. From the groups of stags you see dressed in matching t-shirts, to the families who look like they are going to kill each other before they’ve even set foot on foreign soil. There is always someone to watch.
Take my recent business trip to the US. I was stood in the airport security queue. The women in front of me appeared to be a seasoned traveller. The way she unpacked her beautiful bag expertly from laptops and toiletries and everything that needed to go separately through the scanner. The security man pointed at her boots that needed to go through the scanner. She looked around and jumped up to sit on one of the vacant check points to take her boots off. The way she did it exuberated confidence. She was like a the confident, cheeky character from a book!
While I was in the US I had a massive breakfast one morning in the IHOP opposite my hotel. The most peculiar thing happened to me when I was ordering my breakfast. I started thinking in novel speak. I ordered my meal choice and the waitress asked me ‘how I wanted my eggs.’ And when I answered ‘over easy,’ I added in my head, she said wincing and looking tentatively at the waitress. The waitress nodded with encouragement and scribbled down the order. ‘It will be right with you,’ she said in her southern drawl.
Now I don’t usually think in novel speak. And I wonder if it was because I’d spent a large portion of my business trip by myself. Or it might have been that I thought of myself as character in one of my books. But it sure was odd.
On another trip to stay with my parents in law, my husband and I spent a Saturday afternoon in his parents local small town pub. I started talking to many of the regulars and watching the people that had had years of feuds with each other, the ones that had had crushes on each other. And before I knew it, from an afternoon in the pub, I’d come up with the essence of a novel. I then spent the flight home from Ireland planning out the rest of the book.
I can’t stop. No matter where I go there is stimulus. The only trouble I have is making sure that I write down all the ideas down in my notebook as you never know when the airport lady or the waitress are going to come in handy as a supporting cast.
I'm hoping I'm not alone in this and that there are other aspiring/published authors that can't switch off the writing brain too – our else it might mean I'm going slightly crazy…