I'm doing research, reading a book on how to become an FBI agent. It's dry, pedantic, and yet just reading about the application process, the screening, even the colors and symbolism of the logo, tugs at something within me. A competitive spark, and a patriotic one.
Yep, this is how you recognize grist for the mill of writing. If you're a writer you know the good stuff when you see it, when you hear it or feel it. Listen to that voice and write from that passion, and it will come alive for others.
The screening, testing and training for the FBI are pretty rigorous, and my main character Lei Texeira is thinking about those challenges somewhere in the netherworld where our characters draw breath. I've come to believe it's something like Jungian psychology; characters live in the collective unconscious and we writers are privileged to ferry them out of the underworld.
All this should tell you I'm plotting my fourth book in the Lei Crime Series even as I prepare for the publication and launch of the first book. With all that going on–maybe because of it–within me rises a regret, a longing for lost opportunities. I wish for parallel universes where alternate life paths come true.
In some other life, I'd have liked to be an FBI agent. Now I'm too old to even apply. Oh, and I'm too nearsighted to have ever qualified. (Isn't that discrimination? Apparently they can set these standards and get away with them) They are very uptight about vision, probably all that target practice. *pout* Not my fault I'm blinder than a bat.
I'll chalk “FBI Agent” up in the column of noncareers that I never had- along with psychiatrist (I'm always thinking I can do better with meds than the psychiatrists working with my clients) lawyer (God knows I love to argue) and TV journalist (Barbara Walters reminds me of a therapist and boy does she know how to pry info out of people).
When you're young, it's all ahead. You imagine that you really could do anything, especially if you were born with the extra dose of imagination and grandiosity I was. Life eventually smacks some sense into you, you choose a path and find something you love to do and can do competently, and you live it.
If you're even that lucky and determined.
But if you're a writer, all those other lives become possible. This is part of why it's so addicting. Yes, writers are passionate people–especially crime writers, who deal with the dark underbelly of human motivation and drama. We feel deeply, and most of us love justice and keep the sword-edge of it sharp and close- sometimes so close it cuts.
What are your paths wished for and not taken? What would you have been in an alternate universe?