One of the fun things about writing for the newspaper is getting to talk to so many different people and ask them all about their lives, etc., without it being weird or stalkerish.
All of my interview subjects are interesting, but occasionally, I'll get someone whose personality or world view is so unique. Naturally, my little writer's brain is all fired up by the end.
For example, I interviewed this lady once who said she moved from Colorado to Biloxi (Mississippi) one summer in a black car with no air conditioning.
What a great image! I've never been to Colorado, but I can imagine it's nowhere near as hot as the almost 100-degree temps and 100-plus humidity Biloxi gets in the summer. Not to mention the topography...
Even more, I think about the car with no air conditioning, the young woman "running away from home," the 20 year-old adventure seeker. It wasn't her car, she said. She moved with a friend and eventually made her way to New Orleans.
Another time I interviewed a local farmer who was receiving an award. He has more than 600 acres that he's worked since the early 1970s.
This man was so interesting to talk to. He told me his first job was at the local dairy until one day he decided to start his own place. He said looking back it was a bold move.
At 19, he'd married his sweetheart, and when he left his job at the dairy, the (very) young couple had four kids. He put them all to work and now theirs is one of the biggest farms in this area. One of his sons is gradually transitioning to run the place, following in his father's footsteps.
I asked him what it was about farming he loved, and he told me it was the hard work, the connection with the land, working with the animals, growing his own food.
He's currently raising grass-fed cattle, and he was very knowledgeable about organic farming and methods.
He was so thoughtful. He said farming was hard, sometimes heartbreaking work. He said, "You go to bed disgusted and then wake up the next morning optimistic again."
Then he laughed.
It's tough to write for my "day job" and then attempt to be a novelist in my break. But what a lucky gig.