Get Out and Meet Your Characters

6 Jun

I work two farmers’ markets each week.

And it’s fascinating!

Here’s something you may, or may not, know about me: I’m an introvert.  It’s painful at times, truly.  I don’t feel like I fit in this world, and I avoid groups of people like the plague.   I will always speak if spoken to, but I would rather not get into a conversation most days.  I’m also painfully shy.  Always have been and I suspect I always will be.

So for me to enjoy working a farmers market is amazing . . . and I’m oddly good at it.  Bev says I am charismatic when I’m working the markets and I try to never argue with Bev.  I was that way working retail at a store I owned back in the 80’s.  Customers loved to come into our store and shoot the shit with me, but at the end of the day I was exhausted and conflicted because a part of me hated the experience.

Anyway, back to the story.  I work two farmers’ markets each week, and it is fascinating.  People are fascinating.  People, in my humble opinion, are the greatest show on earth.  The markets give me the chance to really observe people, to listen to them, to gauge their reactions, to watch them as they talk to friends or as they talk to me, to pick up on individual quirks and nuances, little facial tells when they experience something for the first time . . . the old and the young, the healthy and infirmed, the skinny and the full-bodies, the physically-beautiful and the intrinsically-beautiful, they are all on display for four hours each market, and I am enthralled by them all, and . . .

It is a great training ground for any writer!  I think working some sort of retail should be a required activity for any novelist.  Seriously!  Fiction is about the five senses. It is about characters and reactions.  It is about the human experience, the telling of the story, the story itself, and the reception of the story, and a good novelist needs to be aware of that “human experience” connection.

So get out there and rock n roll with other humans.  Watch them!  Truly watch them!  And then borrow from them the next time you sit down to work on that novel or poem.


A big thank you to Cyndi for guest-blogging here last week.  It was just what the doctor ordered for me, and judging from the response it was very interesting for most of you . . . a win-win situation!


A HUGE thank you to all my writer friends, in New Zealand, in Jolly Old England, in Malaysia and Canada and Iowa, in New York and Ireland and Brazil…thank you for making this ultra-shy introvert feel wanted and loved!  You rock my world!


“Helping writers spread their wings and fly.”

40 Responses to “Get Out and Meet Your Characters”

  1. Janine Huldie June 6, 2017 at 2:03 pm #

    I was totally an introvert as a kid, but grew into being more of an extrovert. Yet, I think in the past few years I am becoming more of an introvert again. As I like to be around people, but I also like my alone and quiet time just as much. So maybe I am a hybrid still! In any event Happy Tuesday to you, too Bill 🙂

    • Billybuc June 6, 2017 at 2:06 pm #

      I like that, Janine, a hybrid, like a transformer or something. LOL I saw the notification that someone had commented and I knew it was you. Good morning and thank you my friend. Happy Tuesday to you.

  2. Eddy June 6, 2017 at 2:36 pm #

    Loved this and I also am an introvert. I was painfully shy as a child and loved spending free time with my beagle exploring the surrounding countryside. Although I am not quite as bad today I haven’t changed totally and still love my own space. Thanks my dear friend for sharing this insight.
    Lots of love from my little corner of Wales.

    • Billybuc June 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

      We introverts stick together, dear friend. No wonder I like you so much. LOL Have a marvelous day, Eddy, and thank you.

  3. Graham June 6, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

    Me thinks the old fox has a wry smile with this lovely post. Well done Bill.

    • Billybuc June 6, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

      Me thinks you may be correct, Graham! 🙂 Thank you my friend.

  4. froggy213 June 6, 2017 at 8:53 pm #

    Love ya my introverted buddy!

    • Billybuc June 6, 2017 at 8:58 pm #

      Thanks buddy! The feeling is mutual!

  5. 1authorcygnetbrown June 6, 2017 at 9:33 pm #

    I too am an introvert! Imagine that! I don’t mind so much being at a public event, but the phone intimidates me!

    • Billybuc June 8, 2017 at 12:37 am #

      Too funny, Donna! I hate the phone! LOL

      • 1authorcygnetbrown June 8, 2017 at 10:55 am #

        I hate texting even more!

      • Billybuc June 8, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

        I have to admit, Donna, I text a lot!

  6. Linda Lum June 6, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

    Oh Bill, this is yet ANOTHER in the long list of similarities between the two of us. I HATE to talk in front of others. I would much rather work alone than in a group. However, the last five years of my career were spent conducting workshops–and I loved it. Why? Because I was talking about a topic that really “floated my boat”. (Do yourself a favor and don’t ask me what that topic is. The resulting eye-roll would be far too painful).

    And I think that your skill in observing people is what has made you such a wonderful story-teller. You see (and remember) all those nuances, gestures, quirks, and things that make people REAL. And as a result your characters are real–they sound and move and think like real human beings. Admittedly, a few of them scare the poopies out of me, but they are believable.

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s yet another tool for future writers to put in their quivers.

    • Billybuc June 8, 2017 at 12:39 am #

      What a hilarious comment, Linda…scare the poopies out of you? LOL And I’ll save the eye roll for someone I don’t respect. 🙂 Thanks my friend. These old bones are tired after the Tumwater Market today.

  7. Sageleaf June 6, 2017 at 10:20 pm #

    You just related the story of my life: I love people. I love making a difference. But after being around people all day, I just want to crawl into a cave and hide. This is my biggest dilemma with teaching (which I may be going back into…to tide things over until I publish a few more books LOLOL) and directing the after school: I have a lot of fun making a difference but all the advice, all the mentoring, all the teaching, all the interacting…I am so wiped out by the end. I think returning to regular teaching for a little while might help that: directing college kids, and directing 45 elementary kids, talking to parents, and interacting with the church site, the university, the school and the school district every day is so NOT an introvert’s ideal job. And I need to do more observing. I’m an introvert (but, yeah, I’m on the extroverted side of being an introvert) and not shy, but I get so, so drained after being around people all day. In any case, I hope you’re well and thank YOU for letting me post last week. 🙂

    • Sageleaf June 7, 2017 at 4:46 am #

      But then again…perhaps I just need to delve back into this writing and website thing a second time (a little wiser and a little more focused). You can probably surmise what happened with our grant – not quite public, yet, but will be very soon – and now I get to make decisions. I listened to a podcast recently about INFP personality types. And while we’re so much more than our 4 letters, for me, the INFP fits perfectly. People can mistake us for extroverts, too, because of how we can be on and then the bunny with the battery keels over <– story of my life, haha.
      But anyways, that podcast said that we'll never be happy until we find our autonomy and follow what it is that makes us tick. I know what the answer is. I'm just scared. Scared that it might end up like last time (but I know it won't), where I had to go back and find a job. My heart is telling me to follow my desire to be autonomous…

      • Billybuc June 8, 2017 at 12:41 am #

        Man, Lil Sis, you and I are scary similar. Seriously! You might as well have been talking about me. I just got home from the Market, and I’m wiped, but thank you for such a great comment.

      • Sageleaf June 8, 2017 at 1:12 am #

        Big Bro, you must be an INFP yourself. 😉

  8. Rolly A. Chabot June 6, 2017 at 11:22 pm #

    Hi Introvert brother… reading this was like looking in the mirror in many ways. I can be the complete opposite in a crowd at times. I laugh as after a party people tell me I was really blasted the night before… there is a certain point when I like a turtle climb back into my shell and simply be the hidden me for awhile.

    Hugs and Blessings

    • Billybuc June 8, 2017 at 12:53 am #

      Rolly, I keep my shell close by. Never know when I’m going to need that protection. 🙂

      Hugs and thanks from Oly

  9. Michael Milec June 7, 2017 at 2:07 am #

    Yes Sir. You are wanted and loved. Do not make excuses please, my friend.

    • Billybuc June 8, 2017 at 12:41 am #

      Yessir, Michael my friend!

  10. suziehq June 7, 2017 at 8:13 am #

    Music to my ears, working Markets and Retail I have loved both as I love meeting, talking to all kinds of people and miss that interaction now. I remember when working Retail I would be on feet 9 hrs a day talking most of the time so when i got home just needed “down, quiet” time no talking! Truly a fantastic learning place of human behavior and perfect for character building.
    Have a great week my friend xxxxx

    • Billybuc June 8, 2017 at 12:42 am #

      Thank you Irish! I just did a market today and I’m wiped out…way too much talking and being friendly. LOL

  11. Sally Gulbrandsen June 7, 2017 at 9:14 am #

    You could have been describing my earlier life I too was that shy introvert but think I have improved at the people thing. I love watching them and listening to them. I am an observer and the one who remembers people by tuning into their conversation. I especially love photographing them, especially when they don’t know I am doing it:)

    • Billybuc June 8, 2017 at 12:43 am #

      Sally, I’m still primarily an introvert. It’s painful at times for me, still, being around too many people…but I’m getting better. 🙂

  12. phoenix2327 June 10, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

    Preaching to the choir, Bill. Over the years, I’ve learned to handle my nerves in social situations, but I still prefer the company of myself, my family and my online friends.

    You rock our world too, Bill.:)

    • Billybuc June 10, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

      Just one more reason why I like you, Zulma! Thanks my friend. I hope you’re enjoying the weekend.

  13. Rodric Johnson June 12, 2017 at 7:03 am #

    Finally, after months of not knowing, I have done the searching and found this site. Since my house burned and I started a new job my interactions with Hubpages have stopped though I read your writings still. I hope to make this a normal stop. I am writing a book and about to republish it. My kids and I have been editing it, but I hoped to find someone to test read it. I am not asking you to do it. I am much too self-concious for that. But I want to thank you again for inspiring me to change my wiring style so that it is more engaging. You did that for me seven months ago and it changed my writing perspective.

    • Billybuc June 12, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

      Rodric, if I helped in any way, then I am a very happy writer. That’s what this site is all about…to me, that’s what HP is all about. Friends helping friends. Congratulations on that book. Believe me, if I had the time to devote to it, I would offer to read your book, but I’m afraid to commit and then fail you.

  14. Sarah Potter Writes June 12, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

    Apparently, according to my son, there’s a common notion that introverts do not socialise, when in reality many of them do. Thus, the only way to fully recognise the difference between an extrovert and an introvert is that the extrovert is energised by meeting people, while an introvert is drained by it and needs to disappear every now and then to recharge. He and I are both introverts, although I’ve learned how to convince people otherwise. That being said, I hate crowded places, try to walk my dog on a route where I’m least likely to bump into anyone, and at parties always retire with a plate of food to a comfy chair in a corner, preferably near a bookcase. If someone then seeks me out and we have something in common, then my energy and enthusiasm will immediately increase.

    A question that you needn’t answer if you don’t want to — was your past life as an alcoholic was triggered by the need for a prop for socialising / working, or did you drink on your own as a way to unwind after socialising / working?

    As far as the farmer’s market, I’m so pleased that you’ve found an activity that really interests you and that you enjoy so much. There’s something so satisfying about growing your own produce or raising livestock. I love working our family allotment and taking home produce to cook. The people who have neighbouring allotments are great to be around, too. We respect each other’s space, while being happy to help each other out when need be.

    By the way, I’ve finally done my publisher submissions and generally caught up with things, so should be able to get together those interview questions for you later this week.

    • Billybuc June 12, 2017 at 2:56 pm #

      Thank you Sarah….drinking…I think it started our as a prop to help me socialize. It was always so difficult for me in a group of people, and alcohol released me from that fear and discomfort. I was actually able to drink fairly normally for a number of years before it took over my life. I should have known because from the very first drink I fell in love with it.

      I’m glad you enjoy gardening and farming so much, and I love your description of you in a social setting…that’s me exactly, in a corner, eating, reading, hoping no one comes and wants to talk to me. LOL

  15. Karen Szklany Gault June 12, 2017 at 6:27 pm #

    Hey Bill,

    First, I enjoyed both last week’s and this week’s posts. You are right about working retail. I’ve worked plenty, and it gives you lots of material. My favorite places to work were Wordsworth (local bookstore) and “Crate & Barrel” (home decor). Now I also get some great material from living in an intentional community. ~:0)

    • Billybuc June 13, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

      Hi Karen! Thanks for your thoughts….”an intentional community?” what does that mean? For some reason I’m not clicking on the meaning of that….international perhaps? Anyway, thank you!

      • Walk, Love, Sparkle June 12, 2021 at 4:44 pm #

        Yup, “intentional communities” like co-housing are formed to create a safe place for all those who live together, to eat meals together, raise kids together, look out for each other, help each other trough hard times, etc. ~:0)

      • Billybuc June 12, 2021 at 7:16 pm #

        Of course! I knew that. lol I had a senior moment.

  16. June 18, 2017 at 3:13 pm #

    Well, I thought I’ll pop over and see what’s happening. Feel sorry for your animals too. They just got old, Bro, like me.

    I see you still maintain your pragmatic sanity and quality writing.. Have a great weekend.

    • Billybuc June 18, 2017 at 3:31 pm #

      Thank you my friend. Your visit is appreciated. Pragmatic for sure…quality writing some of the time…determination always!

  17. Shauna L Bowling July 13, 2017 at 7:58 pm #

    I used to be quite the social butterfly back in the day. Now I prefer solitude or the company of just a few people. However, flea markets and farmers markets are a fun place to people watch and interact without feeling crowded. You’re still pretty much in your own little world with lots of other orbits to observe and/or mingle with.

    • Billybuc July 13, 2017 at 8:24 pm #

      Sha, the writing and farming adventures have forced me out into the world. I’m still not sure it’s a good thing. I am perfectly happy in my back yard with the critters. They don’t argue with me. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: