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Fiction Writers Get to Play Pretend

Even as a kid, I loved reading the newspaper, especially the advice columns. The problems people wrote about fascinated me—cheating husbands, in-laws from hell, warring siblings. Long before there was reality television, there was Ann Landers. Half the fun was in reading her salty responses to the letters she received.

Not surprisingly, “advice columnist” landed on my fantasy list of dream jobs. And that’s where it stayed, as I pursued a career in dance and arts education.

But now that I’m writing fiction full-time, I get to bring some of my fantasies to life. In It Should Have Been You, the YA novel I recently wrote, my main character Clara is a seventeen-year-old advice columnist for her high school newspaper.  I had a lot of fun imagining the letters she received.

Here’s a sample:

Dear Since You Asked,

Over the summer, I played in a co-ed softball league. We all hung out together after games and became good friends.

Well, to make a long story short, “Bill,” the catcher, and I became more than friendly. It started when my car broke down and he offered to pick me up for the games and take me home afterward. He was so great to talk to, so mature. I fell hard. He’s completely different from any of the guys I’ve ever dated—sophisticated, considerate, and real old-fashioned in a nice way—like when he picks me up, he holds the car door open for me and helps me get in.

He says he’s in love with me too and when I finish school, he wants to marry me.

But the problem is, he’s twenty-eight, I’m seventeen, and he’s already married and has a couple of little kids. He says his marriage has been dead for a long time, and he just has to figure out a way to get divorced without losing his children.

Bill has asked me to be patient and wait for him. I love him so much. But my girlfriends say I’m crazy. Am I?

– In Love But Wondering

How would you have responded? What would you imagine Clara say? (Hint: She’s a little snarky.)  I’ll fill you in on her response next week in my blog. Meantime, I’d love to hear from you.

And if you’re in the mood to immerse yourself in the world of one of your dream jobs or hobbies, I highly recommend fiction writing.

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