Sunday, September 9, 2012

Time For A Change....

The horror, the travesty... the lace.
I know I'm not the only one who sits with my hands shaking over the keyboard, seconds before I'm about to do something earth shattering to one of my characters. It feels like a betrayal doesn't it? Here your characters are, the product of your own hand, trusting you to lead them along. And then you give them, betrayal, road blocks, heart ache and indigestion.

I myself have felt guilty about doing these things to my characters. Wouldn't the story be so much better if I just had happy things happen to my character? ( I think this is a byproduct of me working with kindergartners.)

But lately, I've been having an experience that makes me think otherwise.

About a month ago, they moved me out of the Children's Room at my library and into the Teen/Adult Section. Now, there's nothing I have against teens, I happen to know some outstanding teens at our library. I just don't happen to like vampires. Or werewolves. Or fallen angels. And really, half the time being around teens makes me feel like I did in high school, the nerd that's trying to infiltrate the cool crowd, and is just too hopelessly goofy and could break into the hokey pokey at any moment.

So I told the administration downtown that if they needed to move me to another library to get me back into a Children's Room, I would appreciate it if they did that. And they did. Starting this Monday, I'll be going to the Georgetown Branch and working in the Children's Room. In theory, I'd thought this would make me insanely happy, but it's been very tough saying goodbye to the kids and the community that I've loved for four years now. I've had a lot of trouble sleeping and more of my fun stomach issues popping up again. What if this new job turns out to be rough? What if the people there don't like me? Will I make the 38B bus on time? It's all running through my head in a circular loop.

It was at this point that my husband, (clever boy) pointed out an important thing. Five years ago, I turned in my resignation letter to the Cleveland Public Schools and drove seven hours with my boyfriend, (without a ring as my coworkers continually pointed out,) and without any new job prospects to live in my boyfriend's parent's house and look for a new job in Washington D.C. I had horrible stomach issues the entire drive down.  And somehow, through all of that, I ended up finding out that I love working with books, and in libraries and that I belong in the Children's Section. My husband pointed out that I never would have ended up in the library, if I hadn't gone through a bit of chaos and a couple of long months wondering if I would be a barista my entire life.

So maybe, it's the same thing with characters. Throw them into the fire pit. Lock them in that trunk and throw away the key. By the time they get out, your characters will be changed. And nine times out ten, they'll better and stronger than before they went through the ordeal. Maybe the only way to get the best out of your characters is to let bad things happen to them.


  1. Yes, I feel bad torturing my characters too. But it really is the only way to grow. Sometimes I wish my life was easier, but I have to admit, those bad times make the wiffly waffly times a lot easier to bear.

  2. This is so brilliantly stated. I believe this is why we torture them. So they can come out better than they went in :)

  3. I am a big happy ender...I have never destroyed a fictional person's life, but maybe one day...

  4. I love this post! Ironically I am transitioning between two jobs and dealing with my own stomach issues, having many of the same reflections. Go ahead. Make your characters suffer and your readers cry. That character arc doesn't come for free.