Yes, it's true.
I lived in a hot pink trailer.
It was, as my brother would have said, "Funky-do."
And not actually hot pink, that's just what Robin and Ben, the friends who let me live in it, affectionately called it. But it was pink with black accents and if I remember correctly, cool black and white diamond linoleum.
It was long and narrow and boxy and had it's own unique smell, but there was something uber cool about it. Definitely "vintage," but, more importantly, a place for me to stay. It was parked in the back of my friends' large, sandy lot, behind their house and amidst eucalyptus trees, and if I could use only one word to describe how I felt living in a funky-do (not-so hot) pink trailer, it would be grateful.
The challenge at the end of each of the previous posts has been to identify in which book the place (or in the case of Max, the concept) wound up. This week I'll have to tell you which book the hot pink trailer appears in because it hasn't been published yet--it's in Sammy Keyes and the Power of Justice Jack. And because I'm a big believer and remembering the people who have helped me through my life, the dedication in Justice Jack will be to Robin & Ben.
Now, if you've read the previous posts about my nightmarish living experiences, you'll recognize that this one doesn't quite fit the mold. A funky-do trailer does not measure up to dangling black widows or psycho landlords, and I would never dream of dedicating a book to someone like Max. But this brings me to the reason behind telling you these stories about places I've lived.
In writing, place can be as much a character as the people in your story. I know that many of you aspire to be published, and, as you almost certainly already know, being a writer can make for scrappy living. So what I want to encourage you with this week is the reality that hard times (and funky-do landlords and living quarters) will give you much more to work with as far as setting and character than a smooth, easy life or a swanky apartment where the toilet always flushes and you've never had to wield a plunger or patch the roof or smash a black widow spider.
Or, for that matter, escape a man who thought you were his long lost Athena.
So if you're someone who's going through a tough time, chin up! Just think of all the material you're collecting! There are so many things in my books that come from life off the smooth lane. And they include so many things I know how to do because I had to figure them out or do them to 'survive'. Many I cursed or hated or asked myself why me? But now that I have survived I have those real life experiences (and funky-do places) to draw from. Sammy is Sammy because I didn't lead a smooth-lane life. Scary times, hard times, strange people, scrapes with the law...all of it gives you character which can't help but transfer into your characters.
So take notes. Take pictures. Remember the smells and the sounds and the pain. Get through the dark days of your life and then use them to make your own light.
It's the only way you can look back and smile.