Vive La Difference...
When I lived in London twelve years ago, I made friends with these two Polish waitresses at the local tea place. They had a dinner party in the Spring and, along with inviting me and then-favorite-guy, also invited these two French women. One was named Genevieve and the other was a writer whose name I can't remember, but she's the one who's relevant to this story. The writer was in her thirties, not traditionally beautiful, but very attractive. She had all those Frenchy qualities that we associated with Parisians--the chic-ness, the Amelie-ness, the girls in the Madeline books. That same quality that everyone thinks they can get by slapping a beret on their head. I'd never heard of her books, but I knew she was a good writer because of the way she spoke. She was familiar with using words well.
Back then, I didn't have thoughts of becoming a lawyer or writer. In fact, I was working for a food photographer named Martin-Something who was very successful but a complete asshole and had no time for my timid questions. But I was curious about this woman, and how she made a living at writing--fiction, no less--when everyone I grew up with kept saying it was impossible to live well as an artist.
She told me three things that I always remembered. The first thing was that she was a selfish person, and that all her writing had to be about her. And when she became too selfish to give time to her characters, she brought everything that happened to her that day--the bad fish at lunch, the unrequited love affair, her nephew's tantrums, the editor who was stiffing her--into the book. "I ask myself, how do the events of today relate to my story?" And then she got past her selfishness and began to write, because because all the best books, when read, tell you something about the author.
I really like that idea. I'm trying to do it myself, even if nothing particularly interesting seems to be happening to me. I'm not sure how much my feud with Roadrunner, my cat's predilection for shredding toilet paper, my doorman teaching me about football so I could (still reluctantly) understand the Patriots-Colts game, or this damn cold weather have anything to do with my stories. But you try, I guess, and see if it works.
(The other two bits of advice from the nameless French writer were these:
1. In order to be sexually attractive, one must have secrets to go to inside one's head (she called it her "secret garden")
2. Most men are more susceptible to romance than most women.
Both are true).