Has Writing Made Your Life…Strange?

by Jami Gold on May 24, 2012

in Writing Stuff

Cadillac bursting out of a wall

We writers can be a strange lot.  We live in our heads, we talk to imaginary characters, we rejoice when we think of horrible things to do to said characters, and we plot out perfect crimes, alien invasions, and the end of the world.

But even beyond all that, writing affects our life in other ways.  Maybe we make a new best friend in our critique partner.  Maybe our neighbor thinks we’re awesome because we’re a writer.  Maybe we people-watch more closely for character ideas.

And then we have the ways that writing can make our life just plain strange.  Like when we stop a conversation in the middle of a sentence to jot down a story idea we just had.  When our Google search history would make a government agent flag us as a potential threat.  Or when we ask our significant other, “If you were going to kill someone, how would you do it?  Would murder by knife or by shotgun be less messy?”

I had two close encounters with weird this week.  Other families might talk about politics or play “I Spy” during a long drive.  Not mine.  (Heh.  I love my family.  They’re crazy like I am.)

There we are in the car and the conversation somehow lands on the subject of zombies.  I honestly can’t remember how—no really, I can’t—but we were talking about this T-shirt with zombies on a tractor yelling, “Graains.”  (Instead of “brains,” get it?  *smile*)

We then spent the next 45 minutes of the drive coming up with other zombie sayings.  What’s a zombie construction worker’s favorite piece of equipment?  Craanes!  What does a zombie driver pay attention to?  Laanes!  What does a zombie plumber love to work on?  Draains!

By the end of the drive, we were laughing about how other families probably don’t have conversations like this.  But I’ve always followed the motto, “Why Be Normal?”  Luckily, I have the perfect family to indulge me.  *grin*

My second run-in with weird has more of a Twilight Zone vibe.  This past weekend, I was editing one of my stories and added two sentences to the very first paragraph.  I hadn’t changed this paragraph in almost six months, so it was a big deal to make this edit.

I added one sentence about a bent prong on a ring, and another sentence about a loose gemstone.  (Trust me, it makes sense in context.)  Less than two days later I discovered a broken prong on a ring and the stone missing.  Seriously.  (At least I did find the stone right away.)

This is a ring I wear constantly, and I’ve never had any problems with it.  (In fact, I’ve never had this issue before—with any ring.)  Yet, right after writing about a jewelry issue, I had the same exact problem in real life.  Is that strange or what?

Should I be careful of what I write in the future?  Or is that a sign I need to buy a lottery ticket?  Ooo, maybe I should write about a character winning the lottery.  Yes, that’s it!  Regardless of the chances of me winning the lottery, I thought it would be fun to compare stories of how writing has made our life cool, weird, and/or interesting.

Have you ever met a new person and they reminded you of one of your characters?  Have you reconnected with an old friend because of your writing?  Have you done something unusual for story research?  What’s the strangest, craziest, most intriguing thing to have happened to you because you’re a writer?

Photo Credit: VroomBroom

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40 Comments below - Time to Add your own.

Carradee May 24, 2012 at 6:25 am

One year, I took my birthday money and bought Body Trauma, Police Procedure and Investigation, and The Book of Poisons. Took them home. Later realized not only what buying all three together might look like—I’d also paid for them all in cash.

When our Google search history would make a government agent flag us as a potential threat.

*cough* Why, I don’t know what you mean. *cough*

With one story, no sooner would I name a secondary character than would I meet someone with that name within the week. (We’re talking names like “Alexis” and “Bridgette”.)

My family makes fun of me for doing things like putting cream cheese icing in coffee, or ice cream on pancakes. (Salt does not work in tea, for the record.) But I figure that playing with unusual food combinations—within the limits of my many allergies and intolerances—will help me with characters.

For example, with one character, I found myself writing that she put old coffee, leftover lasagna, and Oreos in the microwave. (Yanno, heating up dinner.) So I checked what microwaved Oreos would taste like. (S’more PopTarts.)

Speaking of allergies, I saw an allergist once, and his expression when I detailed everything I’d done to identify what my allergies are and to verify that they weren’t psychosomatic…was interesting, to say the least.

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 8:25 am

Hi Carradee,

LOL! Oh, those are fantastic titles! It would be hysterical to know what they were thinking, wouldn’t it?

My Google history has things like how bodies decompose, what makes mummies turn into mummies, the security of a Tiffany’s store (*cough* Yeah, for some reason, Tiffany’s didn’t want to help me with my research on that one.), and acts of terrorism. *pauses* *looks at list* Yep, that’s kind of scary now that I look at it all in one place. LOL!

And those food combinations are weird, all right, but it’s all in the name of research, right? :) Thanks for the comment!

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Carradee May 24, 2012 at 8:39 am

Ice cream is actually really good on pancakes. The icing in coffee tastes fine, but the texture’s a bit odd. ;)

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 8:45 am

Hi Carradee,

I believe it! I’ve had ice cream wrapped in crepes, so pancakes wouldn’t be much different. :)

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Sharon Bayliss May 24, 2012 at 7:24 am

What a fun post! I was already strange. But writing made my strangeness more profitable.

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 8:27 am

Hi Sharon,

Exactly! I was always a bit off. I’ve had that “Why Be Normal?” motto since high school–long before I could blame it on writing. But writing has let me find a way to make that weirdness work for me. :) Thanks for the comment!

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Julie Glover May 24, 2012 at 7:46 am

This is awesome, Jami! I also have weird conversations with others since I started writing (and talking about it). I agree with your statement that “our Google search history would make a government agent flag us as a potential threat.” I wrote about this on my blog before, but I have a boat catching fire in my mystery and a friend and I attended our local boat show. Somewhere in the conversation, I would ask the boat salesperson something along the lines of “What’s the best way to set this baby on fire?” or “How could someone turn off the fire security systems on this boat?” Without the context of “It’s for a book I’m writing,” my queries might have gotten me escorted out by security.

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 8:28 am

Hi Julie,

LOL! Love it! So it sounds like you had better luck with the boat people than I did with the Tiffany’s people (my reply to Carradee above). :) Good for you! Thanks for sharing and for the comment!

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Rebekah Loper May 24, 2012 at 7:57 am

haha, the part about knife vs shotgun evolved into an actual conversation at work about which would be less messy. I’m lucky enough to work with a fellow writer/best friend :D, but I’m so glad our boss was on the phone in the other room while we discussed this . . .

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 8:29 am

Hi Rebekah,

Hee. That is funny. Now if you were writing a story about someone trying to off their boss… Well, that might make work even more interesting. :) Thanks for the comment!

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Jami's Tech Guy May 24, 2012 at 8:20 am

This explains why I enjoy hanging out with all you writers so much, TechFamily is much the same. Last night’s dinner conversation included “Evil Princesses suffering from Bieber Fever”.

-Jay
@jaytechdad

P.S. What do zombie dominatrices crave? “Chaains!” #zombiecravings

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 8:32 am

Hi Tech Guy,

LOL! That’s too funny. And I love your addition to the zombie sayings list. It does sound like a Twitter hashtag game, doesn’t it? Maybe #ZombieSayings? :) Thanks for the comment!

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Chihuahua0 May 24, 2012 at 8:48 am

#ZombieSayings is yet to be a hot Twitter hashtag, so you might as well claim it now!

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Chihuahua0 May 24, 2012 at 8:46 am

Hmm…I’m yet to have that “fiction mirrors real life” experiences (if anything, I think my pipe dreams jinx it), but I’m sure I had the “grains” experience one time or another. My family has a humorous streak that gets going once we’re on a role.

(I’m looking at you Dad, and you joking about Nicki Minaj being your new girlfriend and the hottest stepmom on the block.)

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Hi Chihuahua0,

LOL! Yes, I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. :) Thanks for the comment!

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Buffy Armstrong May 24, 2012 at 8:53 am

I don’t know if being a writer has turned my life strange or that being a writer allowed me to be strange. I mean, I’ve been talking to myself since I learned to talk. I ask people strange questions. I people watch constantly. When people want to know what I’m up to/why I’m asking, I just tell them I’m a writer. I get a pass on my odd behavior. I should have been doing it for years.

The few weekends ago, on my way to my MIL’s, the Alanis Morissette song, “Isn’t it Ironic” came on the radio. My husband and I spent the next 45 minutes coming up with things that were actually ironic instead of the series of bummers illustrated in the song. It’s not as fun as your car ride, but it was fun in a dorky writer kind of way.

I’m with Carradee with the strange book buying. Since I write paranormal romance, I collect books on folklore and magic. I have such strange titles as: 1) The Dangerous Hour: The Lore and Culture of Crisis and Mystery in Rural Greece, 2) Strange Revelations: Magic, Poison, And Sacrilege in Louis XIV’s France, 3) Otherworldly Affaires: Haunted Lovers, Phantom Spouses, and Sexual Molesters from the Shadow World, 4) Elves, Wights, and Trolls: Studies Towards the Practice of Germanic Heathenry: Vol. I, (I have been unable to locate volume 2) and 5) The Bathhouse at Midnight: An Historical Survey of Magic and Divination in Russia. I don’t know what the folks at Amazon think of me (other than thank you for being such a sucker.) Don’t get me started on the misunderstanding due to a baby naming book that I bought.

I just love being a writer.

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Carradee May 24, 2012 at 9:26 am

Don’t get me started on the misunderstanding due to a baby naming book that I bought.

*facepalm*

When I was a teen, my dad walked in and spotted a baby name site up on the computer. He cleared his throat. “Is there something you need to tell me?”

Me: Huh? *glances between Dad and site, realizes…* No! I’m naming a character!

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Buffy Armstrong May 24, 2012 at 10:10 am

My story involves a college boyfriend and a look of absolute terror that I haven’t seen since! :)

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm

Hi Carradee,

LOL! Oh no! With your dad??? That’s an awesome story in a painfully cringing sort of way. :) Thank you so much for sharing!

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Carradee December 21, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Yeah, it happened with my mom and my dad—different times—but the time with my dad was far more awkward.

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Jami Gold December 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Hi Carradee,

Oh, I bet. Depending on the circumstances, your dad might have been wondering where he could bury a body. ;)

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Hi Buffy,

I understand what you mean. In many ways, I also feel like writing has given me the “excuse” to be the strange person I always was. :)

Hee! I can just imagine the baby-naming conversation. :) As someone who has those websites in bookmarks, I understand. Thanks for sharing and for the comment!

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Serena May 24, 2012 at 11:45 am

A lot of times I would accuse my character for making me do something. I have a really audacious female character who pushes me into making impulsive decisions. Thankfully I’ve got her under control now and she can’t force me into things anymore!

The characters I talk to also influence my beliefs and likes. I’m a person who, well, doesn’t fancy poetry that much. I mean I like it, and understand it to some extent, but I don’t LOVE it. But this character of mine adores poetry, and his mere presence in my head is attenuating my opinion and now I feel that maybe poetry isn’t that bad after all. Maybe I’ll even get myself some poetry collections or even write some poems one day.

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Hi Serena,

Ooo, thanks for sharing your story! You reminded me of a similar parallel with one of my characters. One of my heroes has a very specific description for the scent of the heroine, two foods mixed together, and his lust for this combination of flavors/scents inspired me to try it. Now I almost always mix them together. :)

Of course, one of my beta readers is convinced that I must have a dark background because of the types of characters I write–not always on the legal side of things, if you catch my drift. But thank goodness that aspect of my characters hasn’t rubbed off on me. LOL! Thanks for sharing and for the comment!

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Carradee May 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I hope our characters don’t say too much about us. Many of mine are some form of not right in the head, some of them worse than River Tam.

Two recent conversations:

Conversation #1:
Me: [Narrator of X] is insane.
Friend: And [prequel’s narrator] isn’t?
Me: She’s paranoid. There’s a difference.

Conversation #2:
(After discussing why it probably isn’t a good idea to base a character directly on someone you know.)
Me: I don’t really base my characters on anyone I know—which is probably a good thing.
Friend #2: Yeah… “Hey, so-and-so, I based this character after you—he’s even insane!”

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Jami Gold May 25, 2012 at 8:55 am

Hi Carradee,

*pshaw* I don’t think any of my characters are right in the head. :) They act like I’m their psychologist (and yes, that’s just as scary as it sounds). :)

And LOL! at your conversations. Yes, there many reasons I don’t base characters off those in real life. :) Thanks for sharing again and for the comment!

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Melinda Collins May 24, 2012 at 11:52 am

OMG, Jami! What a fun and interesting post!! Hehe…. I LOVE that your family is perfect for you. :D

I don’t have conversations like this with my immediate family, but I definitely have these with me and my husband’s best friends. :) Last Saturday night they invited us over to cheer us up, and we ended up practicing archery in the back yard, which in turn brought us to the topic of ‘how slow of a death do you think a person would have if they were speared through the lung?’ and ‘how cool would it be if you had archery-trained zombies?’ LOL!

I actually ended up connecting with an old friend last month. I hadn’t spoken to her since since high school, but I remember as being the wierd reader who turned writer her senior year. She got an A on her senior project and was told she needed to get it published. :) Anyway, we connected because I asked peeps on FB for name suggestions. She got my # and called me immdiately and said: “Describe the character we’re naming here.” THAT conversation turned into 3 hours worth of book suggestions, dark character discussions, and a few creations on different ways to kill a vampire. ;)

As for story research…the archery above, yea, that was for a story. And I’ve visited a gun range with a guy friend to learn how to shoot, I’ve locked myself up in a room for 24 hours (no TV, no books, no comuter) straight to discover how that felt, and I’ve done some rockclimbing, karate lessons, kickboxing lessons, and learned how to fight with bos <– THAT was fun! :D

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Hi Melinda,

LOL! to your friends’ conversation. And now I’m curious about the slow death thing. ;)

That’s fantastic about connecting with your old high school friend. How fun! I must admit, however, that I have no such story research excuse for many of the scary/adventurous things I’ve done. Not sure I should admit that. :) In my head, it was all preparation for being like a book character, so I guess it all works out. LOL! Thanks for sharing and for the comment!

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Marcy Kennedy May 24, 2012 at 11:57 am

So funny. My husband and I have gotten some very strange looks from waiters and waitresses in restaurants before because of our conversations (like what weapon would really be best to kill a zombie with and whether or not I should poison a character with dandelion bulbs because they taste like onions). He doesn’t even blink now when I announce out of nowhere “I need to kill someone.”

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Hi Marcy,

LOL! I love that type of non-sequitur. I probably do stuff like that all the time and am too oblivious in my own thoughts to realize and see others’ reactions. :) Thanks for sharing and for the comment!

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Amanda May 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I had that gun vs knife conversation some time ago…in the middle of a crowded restaurant. I believe my exact words to the BF were “I need to kill more people.” He, being the wonderful and amazing BF that he is, knew I was referring to the story I was in the middle of and burst out laughing.

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Jami Gold May 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Hi Amanda,

Hee. Love it! All of these stories are inspiring me. :) I think I shall make an effort to burst out with more lines like that in public. LOL! Thanks for sharing and for the comment!

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Michele Shaw May 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm

One of my characters works at a local Subway. No joke! I made up the character first, but one day I walked into Subway and stopped cold. I thought, omg, there she is! I know she wondered why I was staring, but it seemed too weird to explain so I ordered and moved on:)

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Jami Gold May 25, 2012 at 9:07 am

Hi Michele,

Ooo, weird! The local Taco Bell has (had? I don’t know, I haven’t been back. :) ) an employee who looked like one of my characters. I was so tempted to sneak a picture. ;)

Oh, that reminds me of a weird story Roz Morris has about how a town she made up for her book turned out to be real. :) Thanks for sharing and for the comment!

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Renee Schuls-Jacobson May 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Omg! In my book, the main character is losing her cutlery. I have never lost a knife or spoon in my 17 years of marriage.

But.

As soon as Adina lost her forks, I realized I was losing forks. Sooooo weird! Great post as usual.

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Jami Gold May 25, 2012 at 9:22 am

Hi Renee,

Ooo, I’m hearing the Twilight Zone music again. :) That is a very specific thing to have happen. Forks? Really? Maybe there’s a tribe of gnomes who collect forks in a devious plan to take over the world. LOL! Thanks for sharing and thanks for the comment!

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Carol Gordon Ekster June 4, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Probably the craziest thing to me is that I’ve cried over lost revisions that seemed so perfect. It’s a piece of paper, I tried to calm myself. I’ll never get those exact words back, I continued crying. It just seems so crazy to get so emotional about this….but I’m sure it would happen again if I lost another manuscript/unsaved in the computer for instance. This is the price of being creative, I think. Thanks for your interesting post!

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Jami Gold June 4, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Hi Carol,

Oh no! *hugs* I’m so sorry that happened to you. I’ve been there. Luckily, I was able to remember most of my changes, but still… I understand. I hope you’ll be able to recover most of your revisions! *hugs*

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Reetta Raitanen June 7, 2012 at 2:17 am

Weird things haven’t happened to me yet that mirror my writing, but I have had conversations about online and roleplaying games that have turned heads of people walking by.

I was in a swimming hall with a friend and we discussed a strategy for an online game where our nations were allies. The debate was whether we should send killers after this and this person.

Another online game I played was about lives of slutty rockstars and I wanted another friend’s character to knock up my pop diva. “Lets wait for the next ovulation since J has chlamydia right now. It would feel weird to get her pregnant until that’s taken care of.”

Ah, good times :) That game was better than TV shows since we dictated the stupid things our characters did.

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Jami Gold June 7, 2012 at 11:16 am

Hi Reetta,

Oh, love those stories! Yes, those conversations are great–and just like what we have in regards to our writing. :) We’re just doing our part to make sure the eavesdroppers are entertained, right? LOL! Thanks for the comment!

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