Someone asked me recently if I thought my life as a writer was normal. In the moment, I thought it was an odd question — what is normal? But writers get to do some cool things that maybe aren’t normal for everyone. So Wickeds, what cool things have you done?
Julie: So many things! One of my favorite field trips was to a clock tower, where I climbed up and learned how it worked. It changed my book Chime and Punishment. I also love that I make up stories for people all the time. I’ll sit in a coffeeshop and make up backstories for everyone there. That is one of our cooler superpowers, making stuff up.
Barb: Being a writer is foundational to so many interesting things. I love that I get to meet readers and speak at libraries, bookstores, and conferences. The mystery community is so fabulous. And, of course, I get to blog with my Wicked sistas! Writing and publishing is just the ticket to ride this fun train.
Liz: So many things! I’ve met so many interesting people, gotten to go to awesome events and conferences, and do cool research. For me one of the coolest things was getting to be part of the Boston Book Festival a few years back on a really fun panel. I was kind of in awe that I was actually an author participating in that event!
Jessie: I think for me the best part is feeling like my life is always expanding and becoming more fulfilling. It is astonishing how wonderful life is when you feel like you are lined up with your purpose. I think being a writer has helped me to come into my own in ways I had not before and I am supremely grateful for that part of the journey! How else could I have attended a seance as a research trip?
Sherry: One of the most fun (and most terrifying) things I’ve done as an author was to Skype with three sixth grade creative writing classes. I was afraid I’d bore them to death, but they asked wonderful questions. We laughed together and the time flew by each time. It was so fun to see these bright, talented kids.
Edith: What a great question! Some of the hands-on research I’ve done for the Quaker Midwife Mysteries has been a real treat: riding in a historic buggy pulled by a real horse on rural riding paths; living the life of an 1870s New England family for 24 hours (right down to the chamberpot…); hanging out in John Greenleaf Whittier’s study, unchanged from when he wrote and received visitors in it? Definitely not “normal” but so valuable for the small details in my series.
Readers: What cool things have you done in your life that might not seem “normal” to someone else?
I think all of you have such amazing lives! I am always making up stories or songs, although my audience is now mostly my dog and cats!
I was a military spouse for 20+ years and my big ‘not normal’ thing was living in Berlin, Germany. I lived there when the Wall was still up and was right there next to it the very night it came down! I was right behind Tom Brokaw as he was live on air!
That must have been amazing, Deb!
What an experience! We never did get stationed overseas! Maybe one day you will start writing those stories down!
I love reading about your stories! What awesome opportunities you guys have endured. I got to ride in the Good Year Blimp here in Indy and even help drive it several years ago. It was really really neat!!!!
Ooh, I would love to ride in a blimp, Sherry!
Love these glimpses of your writing lives! To learn more about my character, Cornishman Kyle Pennington, I booked a photography trip to Cornwall. I’d go back in a heartbeat for more of those quirky smiles, piskies, and amazing scenes!
Awesome, Kate. What are piskies?
I get up at 4:30 am 94 am on Sundays) to monitor worship sites.
(Edith, I still want to know how to make a chamberpot work, especially since I literally dug up five (one intact) from under my house. I think the others were smashed when indoor plumbing was installed!)
I think being a writer makes you pay attention to details more carefully, because they can prove useful–and sometimes a distraction from pain or frustration or other problems. Case in point: several years ago I broke my ankle in Ireland, and I occupied myself while waiting for x-rays to make mental notes about how the health services worked there, the procedures in the Accident and Emergency department at the nearest hospital, the ethnic makeup of the students making rounds, and so on. I paid attention to who the other people there were, correctly diagnosed a case of shock, and chatted for a while with a nice couple who lived in one of the Irish-speaking communities (she had broken her wrist). And yes, I used that all when one of my characters fell down the cellar stairs at the pub and broke his arm.
That is so smart, Sheila!
As for the chamberpot, you have to have knees that let you squat. Not so easy for me these days!
One of my favorite parts of being a writer is what I call the interesting venue challenge. I have organized a couple of literary reading series for the state, and we’ve read at historic courthouses, jails, plantation homes, a federal judge’s estate, on the lawn beside the river, in state park, at artist studios, at too many bars to count, at the beach, during the Tulip Festival….All great fun, and it gets me out of the house and my yoga pants!
Two things that I have done that I consider cool that others may think of as “different” are being a licensed septic tank designer and a clown.
I was the first women in the state of Arkansas to be licensed by the state to test for, design and submit plans to the state for the septic systems on private land. Hubby was licensed (one of his 13 licenses with the state) and we worked together on systems on weekends for extra money to support our habit of loving to take vacations. To eliminate the “why are you doing that” and to supply me with an income to get my quarters in for social security, I took the extensive test to be licensed too. Proud to say that I earned the respect of the men in the field and was well know at the health department for having accurate and complete work turned in.
The second was being a clown. It’s a long story but through trying to find an old clown doll from when I was a kid, we got the privilege of meeting Emmett Kelly Jr, world famous clown, and eventually became very good friends with him. After years of taking photos, he convinced us to get on the other side of the grease paint. Famous last words were, “wouldn’t it be great to get our photos taken”. Needless to say we loved it and traveled from GA to MI to AZ to have fun clowning with our friend. I had a little 1/4 size clown truck painted corvette yellow and hubby had an 18 inch real motorcycle. We clowned as festivals and even for the Governor of Arkansas. It’s an expensive “hobby” and one that takes a lot of work and dedication to do it properly including about 3 hours to put on make up and prepare for an event. Loved going to nursing homes! Clowns bring out the kid in all of us. It truly is a shame what the work clown has come to mean in today’s world. Age and health curtailed our clowning but always brings back fond memories when I think of those times.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Wow! Those are two fascinating stories!
I’ve got to some great places and met great people, including the Wickeds. I’ve also done police ride-alongs (not that other people haven’t, but I still wouldn’t classify it as “normal”).
Some day I want to go to a morgue and see an autopsy. From behind glass, so I don’t smell it. 🙂
I’ve been on two police ride alongs — they are so much fun. But I don’t think I could ever watch an autopsy!
I illustrated the first edition of Dungeons and Dragons.
Wow, Keenan! That is amazing. You are one multi-talented woman!
Reviewing has lead to some fun times. I definitely think it helps me make connections with authors.
In some ways, my entire life is made up of the odd. I play ultimate Frisbee and do mud runs, after all.
Meeting bloggers like you, Mark is another very fun thing. And you do a lot that most of us don’t!
Oh, my. I could write several books about all the “abnormal” things I have done. A very short list would include helping to sail a tall ship, being invited to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy mansion for a party, riding the lead elephant in a circus parade, and dancing on stage with the lead singer of a very popular music group in La Paz, Bolivia. That barely touches the list. I’ve led an incredibly interesting life mostly because I just reached out to people and was always willing to give things a chance.
That is a very interesting list! I’d love to hear more!
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