Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jobs and personality

When someone recently mentioned jobs we've had as a reflection of our personalities and the jobs our characters have had, I was at a loss, not because I haven’t had jobs (because I have), but because I have had mostly jobs that, really, people start to snooze when I talk about them. Or resent me, which is even worse, even before I’ve managed to offend them in person (or in print or email. Anyway). You see, my jobs have a touch of glamour to them if you don’t know anything about them.

Here are some examples. I’ve worked as a copy editor (see? I can sense the resentment among those who have been copy edited) at book publishers and magazines (ooh, glamour! Not), worked on Wall Street (and already I can sense the snoozing start), worked in comic books (well, this was interesting) as a proofreader (both resentment AND snoozing). Really, there is no glamour to any of these -- a job’s a job. The only job I’ve had that I found to be glamorous was the stint at the wire service, sort of like the Associated Press (the AP), but not. (Among the beats: “freight futures.” You know those big containers you see at seaports, the ones being moved from the ships to the dock or vice versa with those really big cranes? Articles about those were my favorite! Well, sort of.)

Because of this, all my job excitement has to come from my writing or my reading. It also has to describe and define the character in some way. In THE SLEEPER AWAKES, my heroine, Cat Deveney, is a librarian and the Sleeper, a “foretold one,” who awakens in another place, another time. Hey, that sounds exciting! And it has to be really neat to be a librarian! You get to deal with books and information all day! The hero, Strian of Kurit, is the grand prince. Eh, not so exciting. But he was a warrior priest! He’s a fighter! He has to fight a sentient weather phenomenon! Well, that sounds exciting, but dangerous. Being a librarian defines and describes Cat because she’s got knowledge at her command – none of which is useful to her when she finds herself in a place not her own. And Strian’s at odds with himself. He joined the order of Kama, a contemplative order, but when his country is at war, he’s got to help defend it, whether it means fighting that sentient weather phenomenon or protecting his heart from the confused Sleeper.

Then in FESTIVAL OF STARS, Kristin Olafsson, my heroine, is an emergency room physician – that’s sort of exciting (I think this is one of those jobs that sounds exciting, if it’s not yours). The man she meets in the ER, Dare Borodin, has the most exciting job I can think of -- he’s a multilingual translator. But he’s a specialist -- he translates information about cattle (he’s a scientific translator). Okay, less than exciting, but hey, intriguing, right?

And in INTRODUCING SONIKA, Sonya Penn is a physical therapist. This character had to have a job that helped people, because when the story begins, she’s turned away from what should have been her birthright, becoming a superheroine and fighting alongside her parents. That was a plan that tragically went awry when her parents were killed in a confrontation with their arch-enemy. If she couldn’t help people that way, she had to help people any way she could. But you know that feeling when you think you’re letting your folks down? Sonya feels that way. But when she meets John Arlen, she knows she’s got to protect him, the way her parents would have wanted her to.

Jobs say as much as the person as personality itself. Now look at your own job. What’s it say about you? Eilis Flynn has had a series of jobs that sound fascinating. She lives in Seattle with a cranky husband and the ghosts of cats.


  1. Wow, my jobs either reveal me as someone who doesn't know what she wants or can persevere through difficult times - ha, probably a lot of the lot of the former and plenty of the latter. I've sold cars, mobile homes, burglar bars, fences, swimming pools, cosmetics, workwear, students, taught computer, managed a restaurant and a manufacturing plant, worked in R&D creating recipes, owned a tailor shop and now a snow ball stand. And in my last job as a rural carrier it gave me the fodder for my main character in my paranormal who is a storm witching rural carrier. I think it probably says I find all of life interesting and believe I can do anything I set my mind to. Hopefully, that will translate to an interesting book. Best of luck to you!

  2. My job probably says I'm a liar who can't shut up :).