Is the grass really greener or have our yards (in our minds) started to suck ass?
I was playing with Lilliana today, and through the window, across the street, lives this picture-perfect family. The husband is good looking, smiles a lot, but rarely home, and the wife is a beautiful blond who prances around the yard in tiny tanks with a cig hanging from her glossy lip.
They have a little blond boy, he waves at Lilliana from their yard, who seems to be a good kid. I watched the mother, (like a creepy creeperton) strut across the drive, tossing her locks from shoulder to back, and suddenly wondered what it felt like to be her.
I wouldn't trade my life. But it got me thinking about the characters we write about, fall in love with, hate, cry for, etc. Isn't it all about empathy, slipping into your character's skin, knowing how they'll talk and what they'll feel? That's why I wondered about "Tiny Tank," across the street.
I didn't want to be her, I wanted to know why she chose the white tank, why she kept bending over for no reason, what she had for breakfast, what her dreams and fears were growing up compared to where she is now, and what makes her tick. Like really, really tick in the center of her gut.
I don't know her, never met her in the year we've been in this house. But today, there was a dull spark in her eye, something diluted and sallow. Maybe, loneliness. Maybe fatigue ( I can relate). Maybe post-Bert blues (holla). Whatever it was, it made her, for the first time to me, relatable.
And then it hit me. Every character must be flawed. No one is perfect. At least, no one I care to know. Flaws make us real. I never really noticed Tiny Tank before, outside of her excessive showing of skin. And all it took was one strange gaze, flinging ashes to the grass, that made her real to me. I could be making the whole thing up. She could be totally perfect, with her perfect husband who's never home. With her blond boy who may be a night mare. With her tiny tanks and tiny figure she may have to work really hard at.
What I'm trying to say is, if you're going to judge a book by its literal cover, at least try to pry the pages open for a glimpse at the prologue. It may surprise you. I may never talk to Tiny Tank in person, but as a character in the book of my life, one vulnerable glare took her from "who cares" to "what's she like."
Read everyone like a character, a real, fleshed-out person with feelings and motivations. Forget about what you think they might be like and dig in to their stories.
And. Your. Grass. Might. Just. Perk. Up.
P.S.When I hit 100, watch out boys and girls. It's getting close. So close, I'm planning the perfect contestestes *snickers* because I couldn't have done it without YOU...(and you, and you, and you... and Bert and you...)
P.P.S. Seriously? No pictures yet? Send them to me. Anything that means something to you.