Monday, May 31, 2010


Over the years I have had a lot of jobs. I've worked as a client aide for the mentally ill while I was going to college and took care of toddlers at a daycare center. My resume includes many years as a secretary for the Department of Philosophy at Wayne State University. I've been a database researcher, medical utilization reviewer, school media specialist, and an after school coordinator. There really are too many jobs to discuss here. Six years ago I settled into a position as an adult reference librarian for the Mount Clemens Public Library and recently became the director of the Lenox Township Library.

At one point, my mother shook her head, folded her arms across her small breasts and stated that I was a jack of all trades, but a master of none. She was right. I changed job whenever the feelings struck me. I had no problem with trying different things. Some were more successful than others. Fifteen years later, I've realized that being a jack of all trades made it easier for me to incorporate interesting skills, details, and information into my books.

For example, in my October release, You're All I Need, the heroine is an administrative assistant for a high powered real estate attorney. For years, I worked at a law firm as a word processing operator, typing legal documents. I used my knowledge of briefs, motions, and legal jargon to bring an authentic level to the novel.

As I put the finishing touches on my work in process, I say to you, use what you've got. Your life experiences bring special color to your stories. Don't be discouraged by well-meaning friends and family that don't understand what being a writer involves. Your readers will gain greater pleasure from the added layers your knowledge brings to your manuscripts.

Please tell me what you think. I'd love to hear from you. E-mail me at or hit the comment button below.

Remember, don't be a stranger.



Phyllis Bourne said...

I'm the same way with hobbies. I bead, knit, sew, subscribe to the opera, take cooking and Italian classes... but I'm a master of none of 'em. In fact, I'm awful!

Still, learning them has added a little to my stories.

Karen L. Simpson said...

I agree all my passions and interests from cooking to quilt making go into my novels. I think it's important that all writers use what they know.

Liane Spicer said...

This post made me smile, because I realize that only another writer would understand why I made the choice to leave one career and start moving around and doing different things. It's all fodder for writing.

You never know when some aspect of your life will feed into a story: my environmentalism and love of horticulture, for example. What I learned about architecture from my (ex)husband came in very useful in my first novel. A friend's home health agency in Miami became pivotal to my second. And so on...

Jewel Amethyst said...

I can't say I've had as many careers as Karen, but what I had did come into use in my novels: being a teacher and later a biomedical researcher came into play in both my novels.

The other thing that comes into play is the different cultures you glean from people you meet and interact with on a daily basis.

Good advice Karen.