by Ottilia Scherschel
My father was a businessman who carried a small notepad in the inside pocket of his suit jacket. He dutifully wrote down the names of people he met and things he wanted to remember. To this day, I carry a notepad in my purse. I know I could enter important information in my smart phone, but the habit I picked up from my Dad has stuck with me.
I recently jotted something in my pad while at a luncheon. A woman at my table said, “You must be a writer.” My taking notes confirmed in her mind I was a writer. Her statement made me think about what gives us away in life, those habits that tell others about who we might be.
I met a woman at a cocktail party recently who wore a silver lanyard with a small pen attached like a piece of jewelry around her neck. While we were getting acquainted, she wrote something on a napkin. I hoped it wasn’t her grocery list. “Are you taking notes?” I asked.
She chuckled. “It’s a bit of dialogue.”
“Something I said?”
“No, but you triggered an idea.”
“An article. You see I’m a columnist.”
I should have guessed she was some kind of writer. Why else would she need a pen around her neck? “Tell me about the article,” I said without revealing I too wrote.
When planning a novel, I spend considerable time choosing habits for my characters with the idea in mind that these should disclose something about them. I’ve even done the reverse by making a list of habits I wanted a character to have and then creating that character from the list.
Look around. Everyone has habits. What can you tell about the people you see? And what do your habits say about you?