Monday, 18 August 2014

Not My Job, Please!

by Tory LeBlanc

I've had a lot of crappy jobs. (Once literally!)

Janitor at an el cheapo movie theatre in Ottawa. Ugh! Just thinking about the disgusting mess of the women's washroom makes me constipated.

A summer stint at the Canadian National Exhibition was falafel. Guess which booth I worked at?

Santa's helper at a photo booth at Christmastime. I lifted thousands of kids onto his lap. And he still didn't bring me a pony.

Clerk at Toronto City Hall. Super. Mind. Numbing.

Even though I've never tortured my characters by subjecting them to these career choices, the life experiences have worked their way in. The desperation of a truly empty bank account. The body-numbing exhaustion of intense physical labour. The horror of realizing you're not good at something.

Emotion is what transcends a specific job and turns it into a universal experience. While not everyone has had to thrust their hands into strange crusty toilets, they do know the frantic hopelessness of being up against the wall. Who has not experienced rudeness, or boredom? Or felt like they didn't belong?

Shared emotion creates an essential link between character and reader. When we read something we can identify with, we enter the story more fully. Emotion creates a bond that mere facts cannot.

So even if I do not understand the legalities involved in a judge's work, I do know the headache of making a difficult decision. Although I'm not in the medical profession, I can relate to the joy a midwife must feel at the sight of a healthy newborn.

Universal emotions are the parts of my checkered career I strive to bring to my fictional worlds. Not the toilets.

Tory LeBlanc reads, writes, and researches in Nova Scotia.


  1. Wow ... you've been around :) I agree .. it's the emotion that ties everything together ... great post!

  2. Emotion unlocks the story. It doesn't really matter where the characters live or what they have in their lives. It's how they respond, how they feel that counts. Great post, Tory.

  3. "The horror of realizing you're not good at something" it, Tory!

  4. Great post, Tory. And you as the writer translated it to us to make us smile.:)

  5. Thanks for the kind words, ladies!