by Tamela Hancock Murray
We have a new eye doctor and this past weekend I had my first appointment with him for my annual checkup.
He noted that I’m a literary agent. For one, I was impressed that he understood what a literary agent is. Most people have to ask. The conversation led to thoughts about professions as they are portrayed in books and on TV. Let me recap his thoughts:
“There are very few opthamologists in movies.” He named a couple of films, one with an eye doctor as a minor character.
“It’s hard for a character to have a 9-5 job because they work all day. People in movies seem to be architects. For one, no one knows what hours they work, so they can be available any time. Two, you can show them carrying around a set of blueprints as a visual. And three, they have a cool prop like a drawing board.”
From that perspective, he’s right. Visuals for the career of an architect can be rather effective and easy. And though regular office hours may be the reality for most architects, few people know one way or the other, so the perception is that they work when they please. Just look at any “Brady Bunch” TV show. Did the dad ever put in a full day of work?
I always laugh at older films showing a writer driving to an agent or editor’s house to deliver a hard copy of a manuscript in a manila envelope. That has never happened in my experience. I wonder how many people think that was actually how publishing professionals worked on a routine basis?
And how many characters do we see living well beyond the salaries they would be paid in real life?
The fact is, books and film can portray idealized working hours for rarified professions, partly for glamour, and to keep the plot from becoming encumbered. And as readers and viewers, we are more than happy to play along.
What professions do you like to assign your characters? Why?
What professions do you think are over-represented in books or TV? Under-represented?
What professions would you like to see more of?