New experiences, novel ideas


Most of the time, we remain in our little worlds. As writers, the worlds we imagine are much bigger and more complex than reality. We laugh and cry and jump through life’s various hoops with the characters we create. We give birth to them and raise them to become wonderful individuals. Then we send them to their graves and moan their loss. After that, we start another new world and create more new lives.

However, without reality, our little worlds cannot exist. And it is good, from time to time, for us to retreat into the real world to try out new experiences and explore new ideas. The real world can often be dramatically different from the ones we have created. But it is precisely these “new lives and new civilizations” in reality that we need to boldly seek out and explore.

I recently had a chance to visit a law firm. While enjoying the company of senior partners and solicitors, I got to observe how real lawyers speak and act, as a sharp contrast against the legal heroes/heroines portrayed in popular novels and movies. Lawyers dealing with daily issues is not something often seen in the writings of famed authors such as John Grisham and Michael Connolly.

For example, lawyers get upset because a folder or letter is missing, certain software is not properly downloaded, or a client keeps bossing them around.  Lawyers drink beer, take photographs (i.e. “selfies”), and get up early in the morning to do yoga or walk their dogs. They celebrate birthdays with colorful cards and cheesecakes decorated with strawberries. They heat up their lunch in the microwave, garble it down, swallow a cup of coffee, then dash to the meeting room or the library or the court. Sometimes they are late to work because they sleep in or the train is delayed.

In other words, lawyers are just ordinary people like us, trying to live a life. There is nothing glamorous about a lawyer’s life, and I bet some lawyers out there often dream of having a glorious career that enables them to be like Atticus Finch, Perry Mason, Jack McCoy, Horace Rumpole, Jake Brigance, Rusty Sabich, Arthur Kirkland, Lt. Daniel Kafee, or even Australia’s own Janet King.

So, if you want to have a lawyer as a character in your story, try not to rely on the impressions you already have from novels and movies. Instead, do your research. Book an appointment with a lawyer (preferably a free consultation) and pay careful attention to what goes on in his or her office. Make sure you discover something new, and use it in your writing. While such new experiences can broaden your horizons, they are surely to refresh the minds of your readers and reviews as well.

Image thanks to: Affinity Law Firm: Jacksonville Business Lawyer

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