Friday, January 3, 2014


by Sheila Connolly

Earlier this week the top headline (above the fold on the front page) in the Boston Globe read, “For majority of workers, vacation days go unused.”

I laughed.  What’s a vacation?

All right, I’ll admit that I actually took a vacation this year—two weeks in Italy.  But I felt so guilty that I had to write a book about it (Reunion with Death, released in November).

I also spent two weeks in Ireland recently—but that was work.

I love my work! I don't need—or want—a vacation, because it feels like my entire life is a vacation.

When I started writing, I had just been fired from what I thought was the perfect job. I was angry and hurt, so I said something like “I’ll show them,” and I started writing. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I had something to prove, and I knew I had started late, so I was trying to catch up. In the end I spewed out roughly a million words before I slowed down. Okay, maybe a lot of them were not good words—the writing was sloppy, the plots were weak, and I kind of dwelt on dark crimes. Yes, now I write cozies, so I must have gotten all that anger out of my system. I also learned a lot about writing along the way.

And I loved it.  Once I’d purged that bile, I wanted to keep going. I never went back to a day job, so I had something else to prove:  that I might be able to make a living with writing.  Took a while (close to ten years), but it finally worked out.  Beginners, do not try this without an outside income source! Partner, trust fund, lottery win—all will do just fine.

Nowadays I have found that almost everything I do feeds into my writing.  I can’t go to a store without watching other people and wondering, what if they were planning a crime? What secrets do they have? I can’t admire a pretty landscape without looking for places to hide a body, or picturing a corpse washing ashore. Everything becomes fodder for some future book (the ex-government administrative employee who is now raising alpacas on a farm in western Massachusetts is definitely going to show up—I met her at a tag sale). 
The trip to Ireland was certainly work:  I talked to quite a few pub owners and employees, including the woman who owns what used to be the pub that is the model for Sullivan’s in my County Cork books. I got an impromptu lesson on Irish whiskey from a liquor distributor who also happened to be the evening’s entertainment at a Dublin pub. I talked to one bar maid who wants to go back to school to become a forensic analyst, and a nice young man who was planning to go abroad to teach English as a second language. I talked to yet another pub owner about the food service regulations imposed on establishments by the European Union.

In the past I’ve traveled just to see things, and I loved it then. Now I “see” things through a different lens, and it’s still wonderful.  Plus writing gives me a reason to go places and talk to people, which is always a good thing since being a writer means spending a lot of time glued to a chair in front of a keyboard and talking to the cats.

I love being a writer.

 Coming February 4th!


1 comment:

mz. em said...

I loved your post. I need to open my eyes to people, places and things. You give me hope.