The Trade-Off: Whip vs. WIP

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I used to work in construction, having spent two ill-fated seasons as both a stonemason’s labourer and a carpenter’s helper. Unfortunately for my thumbs, I am Bella Swan-level clumsy. I also had no upper body strength. Let’s just say, it didn’t go very well, and I now have a desk job.

However, the experience of being a woman in trades proved to be rich fodder for my new work-in-progress: a contemporary romance about a woman who accidentally finds herself becoming a carpenter’s apprentice.

They say, ‘Write what you know.’

I don’t know much about billionaires or fast cars, but I do know a few things about trades and craftsmanship (and for what I don’t know, I have fabulous beta readers who actually work in construction, so they should hopefully catch my mistakes). But let me stress that I was a terrible labourer, and this new romantic WIP is not autobiographical. My adventures in framing and fabrication were not very cute. Lots of com, very little rom, unless you count my innocent crush on the electrician with a man-bun.

One day, while working inside a giant, temperature-controlled warehouse when I was about twenty-one, my bricklayer was building a wall inside a freezer. If you’ve never mixed up mud for laying blocks (basically, the grey stuff in between bricks), and if you’re thinking of doing it, I’ll give you a free tip: don’t try to mix up mud in a freezer. With the jaunty enthusiasm of youth, I started up the mechanical whip that was stuck in a bucket of grey, sludgy mud. Unbeknownst to me, the mud had frozen in the last half-hour, and the whip—sort of a giant, mechanical egg beater—had no intention of moving. Now, torque being what it is, the energy had to go somewhere. The handle of the mechanical whip kicked out and spun around like a fairground attraction, nailing me directly in the gut.

As I heaved and coughed, doubled over in my steel-toed boots, my hard hat knocked askew by the force, I couldn’t help but question my life choices. To my great relief, there was no one around to see me in action as I nearly vomited up my lunch, my knees hitting the concrete as hard as my ego did, but it was shortly after The Whip Observation that I realized I wasn’t cut out to work as a stonemason.

I’m much happier writing about trades than working in one. More WIP, less whip. After all, safety first.

My new novel, PERFECT DISASTER, is coming soon to Wattpad!

Jess Wesley1 Comment