My non-writing work life has been stupidly busy lately, with little time left over for a breather before bed and, as a result, reading, writing, or other time has not been faring too well. This is, of course, disappointing on many fronts but, to add insult to injury, when it came to writing my weekly post, I realised I had no idea what to write about as I’d been immersed in work for so long. So I’ve decided to write about work as inspiration.
“What?” I hear you screaming incredulously. “Work? As inspiration? Have you gone mad???”
Well, probably, but the truth is that, the more I thought about it, the more work life has been an influencial factor in many a great novel (not, I hasten to add, mine). Think Tess of the D’Urbervilles (agricultural work) or The Bell Jar (magazine intern). And my latest favourite romantic fiction novel, Boomerang (read my review here) is set around two interns in a dating agency working hard while competing for that one job (OK, and trying not to fall in love).
It doesn’t have to be all tough going, either. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the classic “I’m doing my job. Sort of.” novel (Hunter S Thompson’s a journalist, after all, covering a story).
So work can have its writing inspiration merits. How many ex police officers and crime scene investigators turn their hand to writing crime? Quite a few, it transpires. And why not? Don’t they (the same ‘they’ that set the writing rules I like to break, but that’s a story for another time…) tell you to write what you know?
And, if that fails, there’re so many literary greats inspired by the idea of leaving work and running away. So it’s definitely not all bad – think about the specifics of your job and how you can spin a story around the foibles, office politics and/or nuances of your job. Now, I have to go and get back to work…
I’d definitely like to see more engineers writing novels about railways and construction sites… It’s endlessly fascinating but hardly ever appears in literature!
A lot of professions are rarely depicted in literature (or if they are, they tend to be stereotyped). It’s such a shame…
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