I just got back from an office supply store. I went in for one single thing, but it is school supply season and even though I do not have school or kids or any need of supplies, these are dangerous times for writing/drawing/paper-gluing types like myself.
I picked up my one-single-harmless-thing-I-went-in-for, and I headed toward the register. Then I turned around. I couldn't go into an office supply store and not go down the paper aisle. Not in school supply season. That would be UNNATURAL.
So I did. I meandered up and down, looking at the sale tags and chewing my lip. I have plenty of paper. I even make my own notebooks. See?
I have plenty of paper. I couldn't. I shouldn't.
Don't judge me.
I scuttled up to the register with my nose scrunched up and to the side like a defensive bunny wearing its "don't judge me" face. I tossed down the I'm-not-telling-you-how-big pile of these under my arm:
Composition notebooks, $1.00 each. What I hoped no one saw was that I dove into a display as tall as me to find these particular special ones. Yes, they were on the bottom, and yes, I was thrilled when I found them, and no, I didn't need them.
Don't judge me.
The cashier picked up the notebooks. "You must like these," she said glancing at my pile.
"Yes," I said and hurried through my wallet looking for my debit card. She was judging me. I could feel it. She didn't understand.
"Hmm," she said. "Do you mind telling me why?"
Judging. She was. I knew it.
"Well, I'm a writer. Er...at least, I write a lot. These ones are made in Brazil. They have the best paper, especially for fountain pens. These are the college ruled ones, and you almost never find them."
"Oh!" she said and flipped through them. "That's so funny--you're a writer, too! I'm in school for creative writing, and I am always looking for good paper I can afford. I'm going to have to get a pile of these myself!"
She hadn't been judging. I had.
We chatted a few minutes more about fiction writing and screenplay formatting and yes, where the last stash of the good notebooks were. I'm not selfish.
How many times have you missed out on making a connection with someone because you thought you could read minds? (Hint: You can't.) What about your characters? What makes them scrunch up their noses and hurry through their purses?
We all have quirks and foibles and idiosyncrasies, and most people are just a smidgen sensitive about them. Sprinkle some on your fiction and you'll be surprised at how many people can relate.