Everyone wants to be a hero, the one person who makes a difference. The person no one wonders why they were put on the earth. It’s a goal even if to attain this status means sacrifice, loss of self, even pain.
Novels are chock full of heroes, both obvious and those quietly saving the day.
I have this longing but being that person eludes me. Recently at work, some of those on my team were in key positions of skill that they were called upon to continue through the night even after a full day’s work. So while I slept (somewhat fitfully)they solved problems and got the critical job done. My only contribution was to make sure they were clear on what needed to happen. I had no power to do it myself. If I stayed up to keep them company, show solidarity, I would not be able to carry on this morning and that is what I can do.
How hard it is to step back, let others shine, let them rise up and earn deserving appreciation, the honor for heroism. I’m struggling with being on the sidelines knowing that I was not called upon because I’m not the right person which is so easily translated in my brain as not a good person, not a capable person, somehow guilty of a crime.
I’m going to put these thoughts behind me, because I’m up at the plate now but it does bring to my mind the importance of lesser characters in a story. There’s no doubt that the protagonist is going to be a hero of sorts, but to get into the head of those around that person is key to a full story. This was pointed out to me more than once in critiques of different WIPs. I forget to fully develop the supporting cast.
Many of us in life are not the hero, at least not in a big way. How do you feel when you’re on the sidelines in the presence of a great person? What struggles do you have not being even remotely in the limelight but you’ve pushed yourself well past what is easy but it’s just not as much as the next person can handle? Channel those feelings, and experiences into the minor characters in your novel.
Everyone knows, a hero really isn’t a single person. There is always a network of support that allows the unique, superior qualities of the hero to be expressed, those that make it possible for the other to succeed. It’s not an equal share in the work, but it could be the simple plugging of one hole in the boat that keeps it afloat long enough for the strength of the the rower to get everyone to the shore safely. My deepest gratitude to those who are giving their all to help others. Those called upon during this pandemic year to give because they’re skilled to do so and don’t call it a job requirement but act from a deep well of compassion. May you find those lesser characters around you giving you the word, the smile, the speedy delivery of a meal, the taking care of children, the listening ear to your tears, always there, always ready to help you.
a personal survey
- Lipstick – it’s a ‘special occasion’ thing for me. I wouldn’t miss it.
- Statistics- Like out of 5000 submissions less than 50 are requested for more in a query to an agent.
- Boss- in the traditional work sense. Otherwise, we all know there is always an authority somewhere in our lives and I’ve come to know that is not a bad thing. Work bosses though are not always easy to deal with and if they have a few ‘issues’ it’s tiresome to be the subject of their whims.
- Hand sanitizer- well, actually, I’ve been a hand sanitizer junkie long before the pandemic so let’s change that to stinky, cheap, questionable sources of ingredients, hand sanitizer ; something only known to mankind since 2020. And for good measure throw in face masks, definitely could do without the need for these.
- Doubt, uncertainty, not enough time to write- I want to include each of these but truly I need these in order to push myself forward, just like a story needs conflict and trouble to keep it moving. So change that to ‘wasted’ doubt, uncertainty or time.
- People- okay so what I mean is people not in my family, aka neighbors, in close proximity. This is a love / hate relationship. I simultaneously enjoy my neighbors kids running through all our yards, laughing, screaming , playing, enjoying life with abandon while wishing I couldn’t overhear their family barbecue conversations, arguments and even having them stand on their patio gazing into my yard as their dog does his business, thankfully on their green grass. If I had to choose between living in a densely populated place or alone in a remote place, I’d choose squirrels as my companions. Why not? I always have books to connect me to humanity.
- Prejudice/ Hate/ Discrimination – don’t want to give it a moment in myself; don’t want it to push my family to choose not to go places, not to do things because these human blemishes lurk, ready to strike, ready to ruin the day, and as much as it appalls me and makes me ashamed of the human race to say, ready to kill.
- TV news- it’s designed to hook me by conjuring up fear from the slightest of possibilities. It pretends to be helpful, needed, informative (ha!) but the amount of value it brings is far outweighed by the psychological, mental stress that it stirs up in order to encourage me to watch more which ultimately means more commercials which at the root is the evil of the love of money. My apologies to anyone who is in the business, don’t take it personally.
- Anger- it has its place but I’ve found for me it takes me down paths and then abandons me to spent emotions, destroyed self control and defeat.
- Complacency- this one scares me. How much is this embedded in my life? I am passionate about certain things, at least I can talk about them with energy and zeal but are they just my trophies sitting on the shelf of what I call my character, who I am? Say it ain’t so that I’m a hearer only and not a doer.
Take a “Ten Things” survey of your life. It’s an interesting activity. Makes me want to pay attention, make changes. Also a good exercise to do with characters at the start of a novel idea. I did this days prior to NaNoWriMo this year and even though I didn’t know my characters well, it made a huge difference in getting the story right with much less tangents that I had to snip out of the first draft.
Happy writing! Happy living!
Minimalist thoughts hiding in the closet
I’m in a phase where I want to set free anything I have that I don’t really need or really want. Maybe it’s a side effect of 2020. I’m working remotely three days a week and those I go in for, the dress is mega- business casual. It’s caused me to look around and ask why did I feel I needed all this stuff? It’s amazing how perspective can change just by taking a break from the ordinary. Of course, writer’s know this. Every time I put a WIP away for a time, I catch a new vision of where it can go. I’ve applied this new view to my office at work. I accumulated all kinds of stuff that apparently I don’t need because I only have access to it twice a week. That was just the beginning. Naturally the next wilderness of excess was my closet. I looked around and decided to challenge myself to pick fifteen articles of clothing to donate.
Now, you all need to keep in my mind I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to clothes. Once upon a time I did not have fifteen items and most of what I did have were hand me downs or thrift shop specials.
So once I could afford to buy more than what I need, that’s what I did. Years later if it was good quality or I remember it was a super good deal, I had a hard time getting rid of it even if it didn’t fit anymore or I wasn’t sure if I liked the look. Well with fresh eyes, I didn’t stop at fifteen.
I’m not going to say it’s liberating because really things are not the reason we keep ourselves bound, however, clearing out what doesn’t serve any purpose does allow space to mentally breath better.
The key is not to get high off of the initial thrill of having less stuff. That fades fast. It is what I kept that gives me the greatest joy. Each item has been selected for a reason. Some I know will only last a season and then they’re gone. Some are in for the long haul, good quality, rarely used, but I never want to have to buy again. Others I’ve had in my wardrobe for years and they still get the job done, sweaters, a pair of black pants that never look old and always fit no matter what weight I am (I’m wondering if they’re magic – sounds like a story) and slinky jacket that turns any dress into evening-ware. The goal is not to be minimalist but elitist, only the best and most loved stay. You know where I’m going with this! What would happen if right now, that word, scene, or character that you’ve gotten used to seeing in your work was set aside? Would you miss it? Try it with your possessions, do it with your writing.