Some people, if given a second chance, say they’d want to be rock stars instead of, let’s say, writers. Some people would be dancers, or movie stars. Me, personally, if I had a second chance, I’d want to be a therapist. A psychotherapist, an analyst, a psychiatrist, one of those things. A person who listens to other people’s problems and helps to solve them. No, it’s not that I’m a philanthropist or anything. I just love to figure out other people’s lives, to hear their stories, to marvel at how they’ve survived. It’s endlessly fascinating to me – ask any of my friends just how nosy I am. I’m the type of friend who wants to know everything, who asks a million questions, who will even dare to piss folks off just to get the last question in.
My favorite job, before being a fiction writer, was working for a .com where I got to interview world-class athletes and write articles about them. I got really nosy then, and the sports people didn’t seem to mind. I’d get them on the phone, and record three hours of tapes, just asking them how they got started, who their influences were, what type of childhood they had, how they got along with their coaches, why they worked so hard to be the best, blah, blah, blah. Then, I’d have to transcribe and boil all those hours down into a thousand word article. So, I’d listen to the interviews all over again, just studying the steps these folks took. Getting secretly inspired. Trying to pass that inspiration on to readers.
I guess I do the same thing now, with my characters. I figure out who they are (by writing bios for them, and asking them lots of questions), then I throw them into a world of trouble, and try to figure out how they’ll react. It’s my job to get them out of the trouble, of course. Writing fiction is a little less dangerous than fooling with other people’s lives, but more dangerous in terms of my own life (writers, in general, are always worried about their next buck. I’m not sure therapists have that problem.)
I don’t know, maybe I’m crazy. Anybody else have a weird “other thing” they wish they could be?