Nov 4, 2012

Cardboard Insecurities

Originally posted in October:

 For one of the first times in my life, I'm scared. I'm unsure. I don't know what I'm going to do. And I don't like it.

      Ever since I was little, I knew what I wanted to do in life: Write. I was going to write a book, be published, and become a bestselling author. Over the years I've dropped the bestselling part--that's not that likely--but I was going to be an author. That's what I wanted to do with my life.

      It's still what I want to do in life.

      But I can't live off of it. What if no one picks up my manuscript? What if sales aren't great even if I do? Even if Iwas a bestseller on book one, I still wouldn't have enough to live on. 

      I need another occupation.

      That's what scares me. I recently put my foot down and said I was going to go into marketing, but was that the right choice? Should I have been a photojournalist? A psychologist? A burger flipper? For the first time in my life I'm honestly unsure of what I'm doing.

      Sure, I suppose I've been unsure before. I've wondered if writing was the right choice for me, but in those instances, writing's not like anything I could just drop and ignore. It just hasn't been like this. Throughout my life I've had those weird moments when I wondered if I should build websites (imagine me gagging right about now. Computers?Really?) or drawing horses for trading card companies (which this pin could probably detail out for you), but I always went back to writing. That was what I needed to do. I was never really unsure of it. I'm still not.

      So I'm scared. I don't know what to do. I've made you all listen to this long, boring rambles with no apparent purpose. But I do have one.

      What if this is what our characters feel?

      Lame question. I know. What about this makes anyone stoked (don't ask. I just had the strange urge to say stoked)? But, really: Don't we make our characters hopelessly lost and unsure? Don't we scare them out of their minds and place them in the most terrible situations we could place them in? My feeling is practically nothing next to theirs.

      I have those weird moments when I stop and wonder if the things I'm feeling are what my characters feel. Ugh. I'm horribly tired. . . I hate this. . . I need sugar or caffeine or something. . . Wait. Is this what my poor, malnourished character feels everyday? And he's used to it? How could anyone live like that?

      If you don't have scared, insecure characters, I believe it's important. Everyone has things that frighten them, and certain things scare them to death. I mean, that's just life. I'll freak out over bees and wasps and I will worry about losing people. I don't always open up because of that. Sometimes it can take you several months to break down my walls (and you're probably an awesomely weird person to do that--compliment, by the way). I can't help that I'm that way. Honestly, I have no idea why I'm frightened of bees. I always freak out around them. Don't get me started on the time one decided to hitchhike on my jeans.

      Take my character, Jef-Jef, for example. He's shut himself off almost completely from the world. He's tired of "hurting" people, and them hurting him. He feels like he can't trust people. He won't open up to his foster family. He'll just be moving on to a new one sooner or later. That was how life worked. He was never going to find a family. Even his own family shut him out. His mother abandoned him and his father kicked him out. Who is he supposed to trust?

      Everyone has their insecurities. Don't forget to leave them out of your characters. You'll probably hear me going on about this till the end of time, but please don't make them cardboard Barbie dolls you push around across your bed acting out a "story." I mean, I'm sure I'm not the only one who grabbed dolls, figurines, or stuffed animals and made them the characters of some great story in which they were the worst characters ever imaginable. Our characters are real. We need to remember that and not push around cardboard images of them.

      My mom never did understand why I didn't like babydolls. Honestly, all in all, I was more into stuffed animals (who had the most epic names ever and talked and had the chance of being total drama queens) who acted out my stories. Babies didn't talk. They only were fun if I was "pregnant" and were stuffed up my shirt (please tell me I'm wasn't the only weird seven year old who did that). Ahem. All I needed was something to act out my pitiful plots with pointless characters and overcontrolling Barbie mothers.

      We don't want to stay in the overcontrolling Barbie mothers stage, do we? Don't forget to make those characters real. This doesn't mean you have to fill out one of those fancy character questions lists (which I congratulate you if you can complete since some of my characters find it horribly weird that I ask them what their favorite drink is) or anything like that. I just beg you to make them real.

      And I digress about my old Barbies with superpowers again. . .
      -Silence K. Grulkey

P.S. Oddly, I never was really into Barbies. Mine were only awesome because they were the really old ones with the arms that were sitting in 90 degree angles. Which, was awesome till my favorite one lost her old legs and "died." Sorry, Midge. You transformed into an animal for the very last time.

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