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I think I have that existential dilemma figured out. I think writing all the time, even while I’m at work, so I’d say I’m a writer who works as a financial aid advisor. I’d like to be a writer who works as a writer–hopefully that will come soon.
I find my work experiences and some certain traits of my colleagues creeping into my writing. Such as a scene in my completed manuscript, Office Politics, where narrative character Frannie Freeman falls down in the parking lot for absolutely no reason. That incident is based on an actual occurrence. I couldn’t walk across a flat parking lot swept free of debris in the middle of summer without falling–which is pretty much what happened. Behind the Heavy Equipment/Diesel Mechanics classrooms, no less. With all the Heavy Equipment/Diesel Mechanics students watching.
As if that public humiliation wasn’t enough, when Chicken Little and I got back to the office, she tells me, “Sharon, I KNOW you’ve got to be bleeding; you fell on that knee pretty hard.” I tried to pull up my pants leg, but it wouldn’t go up over my knee (that was back when I was a slimmer and trimmer Sharon who could wear peg-leg jeans) (I just dated myself with that term, didn’t I?). There’s nothing for it but to take the pants down and have a look at that knee.
I didn’t have an office at the time–she’d been promoted before me and got the last remaining office; I was still in a cube, and students had no problem popping around my cube wall to ask a question when they wanted to circumvent the line. So we went into her office and I stood behind the door while she she stood in front of the window so students passing by outside couldn’t see me. This was necessary because both windows in her office–the one looking out into our lobby and the one looking out onto the campus–were those tall, narrow sidelights. Behind the door was the only place I could stand and hope to not be seen.
So down come the jeans, and sure enough, I was bleeding. My knee was hamburger, in fact. I spent the evening pulling threads out of the wound, and let me tell you, that is not fun! I think I’d rather go through childbirth again. Anyway, there I was, pants down below my knees, in my friend’s office with the door closed–and in came our work study student to ask a question. She sees Chicken Little by the window and says “What are you doing?” Then she turns and sees me behind the door with my pants down and exclaims, “OH MY GOD!! I DIDN’T NEED TO SEE THAT!”
We’re pretty sure she was scarred for life; once she left to do her clinicals in Salt Lake City, she took a job there in Utah and hasn’t been back since. I doubt a lifetime of therapy could erase from her mind the vision of me behind the door with my pants half off.
And as if THAT wasn’t bad enough… A week later I decided that riding my bike to work was the way to help my campus meet the Commute Trip requirements of the state. All went well until I got to my building and started to get off my bike. I don’t know what happened, but the next thing I knew I was on my back in the grass, staring up at the sky. A student across the street called to me, “Are you all right?” I recognized him from the week before; he was in our lobby when I limped back into the office after falling. God. Kill. Me.
But here I sit–scarred physically but relatively unscathed mentally–with two completed manuscripts, a third about half-finished, a fourth about one-third finished, and a fifth about one-fourth finished. I woke up last night for no reason at all, and lay awake for about an hour and a half. I have this weird form of insomnia where I can’t stay asleep for the whole night. I don’t know what the technical term for it is, but I call it sleepus interruptus. It’s hell on a work night, but last night was no big deal. By the time I went to sleep, I had the rest of my current WIP planned out. Women’s fiction…who’d’a thought I’d ever write women’s fiction? I’m no girly-girl; I’m not really much of a romantic, to tell the truth. But I find that my writing consistently puts relationships in the forefront, and often romance comes into play. Maybe I’m more romantic than I thought I was.
I think it’s really important that you know who–and what–you are. So yeah, I guess we could conclude that I’m just nuts.