I’ve always wanted to be a writer from the moment I started scrawling badly conceived letters in my mum’s favourite books. The only problem is, its hard to get work experience in such a career. I’d tried numerous times to get placements within local newspaper offices which were politely declined as I’d never studied Journalism, and the idea of writing to local authors asking to shadow them terrified me, as I know personally that writing with someone looking over your shoulder is tantamount to violence on the author’s part.
My work experience consisted of volunteering in a community charity shop, sorting stock and serving customers. I enjoyed it, but never really thought it would amount to anything other than a feeling of well-being and a shiny sentence on my CV “has done selfless unpaid work for the community – hire me!”. It wasn’t until I met a lovely woman that changed the way I thought about how it could be linked to my writing.
This woman was, let’s say, eccentric. Her yellow blouse clashed with her purple hat and green coat, and she gave me a brilliant smile as she walked into the shop. I watched her effortlessly glide between the rails, her leather-clad hands inspecting the items. Before I has even spoken to her I thought to myself, “this is a woman I would be able to characterise.” That was the moment in which I realised not all of my hard work was for naught.
From then on, I’ve seen customers as an inspiration. Not only from the way they speak and dress, but also small mannerisms that I’ve noticed and have stuck with me, and I use them in my writing to (hopefully) great effect. Now, as I work yet another (paid) customer service role, instead of hating the career I find myself in, I greet customers with an open smile, hoping that each one may be the flash of inspiration I need.