Hunting and Gathering in our New Reality @swhubbard



LUCY BURDETTE: Today I'm delighted to welcome our long-time JRW friend SW (Susan) Hubbard. We're all having to make major adjustments in our lives, and here's a peek into hers. And also, if you haven't read any of her Frank Bennett mysteries (that I adore), now's the perfect time because the first three are free and then you can binge and read all the way to the new one, ICE JIG! Welcome Susan!


SW HUBBARD: I come from a long line of hunter-gatherers.

My mom loved to shop. My Aunt Viola loved to shop. My Aunt Bessie raised shopping to an art form.

And my daughter and I love to shop. For anything: food, clothes, household items, gifts. We hunt for it and bring it home. It’s a bonding experience.

Of course, I order things online. But I still enjoy the in-store experience. Browsing. Touching. Seeing what strikes me.

“But what are you shopping for?” my husband asks.

For? For?? There’s no “for.” The process is the purpose.

Suddenly, all that has changed. The Covid-19 quarantine hasn’t changed my work life at all. I still get up and write at my kitchen table every day. But pre-pandemic, after the day’s writing was done, I went out for a little hunter-gatherer activity just about every day. One day Trader Joe, the next day Costco. Target and HomeGoods for the house. DSW and Nordstrom Rack for an outfit or two.

Now, I have no choice but to stay home and order what I need, like this box of veggies from Misfits Market. And if I do venture out to the supermarket, I have to use a list because I can’t afford to forget anything.

I NEVER used lists before. On the rare occasion that I made a list, I’d usually leave it on the counter, or forget to look at it until I was in the checkout line.

And it dawns on me—that’s how I write as well. I’m a pantser—no outline. If I make a few plot notes before I begin a new novel, I usually forget them by Chapter 3.

In the supermarket, I meander through the aisles. The asparagus looks nice today, and do they have those yellow kiwis? And then I get some smoked salmon at the deli and about the time I reach the dog food aisle, I get a flash of inspiration. I could make pasta with smoked salmon and asparagus for dinner! But I’d need dill for that, so back to Produce I go. And do I have linguine at home or only fusilli? Better head over to Pasta.

I shop like a bee—flitting, hovering, looking ahead for the best flowers, circling back.

I write the same way. I write my way forward until I hit a plot dead-end. Later, inspiration strikes at odd moments: sorting laundry, chopping onions, planting pansies.  Eureka! I can get out of the dead-end with my brilliant new plot twist, but I have to circle back to set it up.

Back and forth, hunting and gathering.

Now that I can’t hunt and gather for the supplies of daily life, will my new routine change the way I create novels? Will using a list when I shop finally make me an outliner when I write?

I’ll let you know when I launch into writing my new women’s fiction project, Life, Upended: Roz’s Story (the sequel to Life, Part 2: Lydia’s Story). Meanwhile, I just published a new novel in my Frank Bennett Adirondack Mountain Mystery Series. In Ice Jig, Police Chief Frank Bennett tackles small town politics, family secrets, and ice fishing to solve a baffling crime. You can buy Ice Jig in Kindle, Kindle Unlimited or paperback. And to celebrate the launch of Ice Jig, I’ve made my Frank Bennett Kindle boxed set FREE through April 3. If you’ve never read this series, here’s a money-saving way to sample these small town police procedurals.

Do you miss shopping now that we’re mostly all quarantined? Or are you enjoying having everything delivered? Do you think you’ll revert to your old shopping routines when the crisis is over?