“Stop bossing me!” my little brother used to say when we were kids.
I was sure I was smarter, not just older and taller, so I was the one who planned and directed all our after-school and weekend adventures. When we pretended we were musketeers on our ponies, or made parachutes from sheets and jumped from the roof (onto a pile of mulch), or started a neighborhood newspaper—all those were my great ideas.
When I was twelve and he was ten I stopped “bossing” him. It took some effort, and I can’t remember what motivated me to give up my autocratic ways, but I began to let him make suggestions and even choices for both of us. Some of his turned out quite badly (fruitlessly digging for buried treasure), but some were great (sneaking into an A’s World Series game).
After I graduated from law school, my natural bossiness returned. I brought cases into my firm, directed the lawyers on how to handle them, and made all the trial appearances. I planned the goings-on in my personal life with equal rigor. Everything on my calendar—social events/sports/travels—was determined by me. I was, as they say, a control freak.
When I stopped practicing law and had no responsibilities and no one to boss, I enjoyed it for a while. I had business cards printed that listed my profession as a “creature of leisure.”
Then I was bitten by the writing bug. Nearly overnight, I had a whole new crew to dominate and control—my characters. I outlined my first book in great detail. I knew exactly what each character would do, how they all would feel, and exactly how the plot would unfold from the first word to the last.
Working on my story “The Fourteenth Juror” for the 2012 MWA anthology, Dark Justice (Lee Child, editor).