‘Is that character based on me?’

I was walking my dog early this morning and she started playing with another dog. My heart froze as the other dog walker looked at me smiling and said: ‘we’re walking the same way, we can have a natter as they play.’ 

I’m generally bad at small talk… I’m awkward, I’m uncomfortable and I want it to stop. I’ll pretty much do anything to avoid it, in fact. 

But here’s the thing, this doesn’t mean I dislike people. They fascinate me, that’s half of the reason I write. 

But I can’t stand the surface chat people wear to hide themselves. As the saying goes: ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that.’ 

As luck would have it, quite often, people seem to pick up on this don’t put me through the trauma.

For example, here are 5 things I now know about the stranger I shared a 15-minute dog walk with: 

  1. She had her son by IVF 
  2. Her sister has a daughter the same age 
  3. She works full-time but her husband doesn’t help her out at home or with their son or the dogs and she’s exhausted 
  4. Her husband is scared of his boss (who doesn’t have children of her own) so he works from 7am to 8pm and rarely even asks for time off. She has to take all the paid and unpaid leave to keep on top of ‘life stuff’. 
  5. She works with a lot of alpha males and when they do Zoom calls, none of them seem to have children or dogs or other chaotic life things going on in the background like she does and she worries constantly that they’ll wonder why they employed her and get rid of her. 

She’s carrying a lot. I left her and came home and have been thinking about her all morning. 

People often tend to overshare with me. They tell me inappropriate things, they tell me personal things, they tell me things they might not have told people closer to them. 

Why is that? What vibe do I give off that says ‘come on down and unload’? 

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE that they do. I might not be good at the surface stuff, the small talk. But the stuff underneath that? I’m all over it.

Is this a common author thing, I wonder? I don’t know – what I do know is that some of this stranger will  probably end up inside a character in my fourth novel.

So thank you, whoever you were. You’ve done this author a service.

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