My family and friends have not yet realized that having a writer in their midst can be perilous. Not only does my life nourish my writing; theirs do too. My niece is a sailor; a teenage girl in one of my WIPs is also a sailor, and during the coming summer vacation my niece will be my research assistant: she'll be teaching me to sail. I'm looking forward to our sessions in the gulf so that I can write knowledgeably about this character in the novel, but I'll have to remind myself to be in the moment out there on the ocean instead of distractedly trying to figure out exactly how my character manages to get wrecked on a reef, and how the jibsheet and mast might be used as survival tools.
My niece, far right, with her teammates
The problem with my nearest and dearest is that they do interesting things. They don't stare at keyboards all day and night or daydream their lives away plotting stories. My son is a surfer and traceur; if you don't know what that is, you soon will as parkour is well on its way to becoming a mainstream sport. My sister is an equestrienne; my mom's an ace gardener and horticulturist; my brother's a motor boat enthusiast, scuba diver and sport fisherman. One of my friends is a racing enthusiast; I can thank him for whatever knowledge of cars and performance driving I've managed to garner.
My son, airborne on the beach in Ft. Lauderdale
If my people were all nebbishy accountants who spent their spare time watching television I might not be so tempted to mine the ores of their lives for material for my stories. As it is, their passions inspire me and feed into my passion: writing. Right now they think it's fun to serve as inspiration for the writer in their midst, never suspecting that the coin might be two-sided.
I've seen one writer buddy's friendship with a colleague implode because he based a character on her and the portrayal was unflattering in the extreme. An acquaintance of mine accused me a few years ago of plotting to put him in a book. (He flatters himself.) On I go, like a good miner, collecting precious chunks of the lives around me and incorporating them into my work, forging them into new metal. My family and friends are happy to assist; as far as they're concerned it's all good. I suspect the clock is ticking on their naivety.