character


Random quote of the day:

“The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong.”

—Phillip Roth, American Pastoral

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“To arrive at a just estimate of a renowned man’s character one must judge it by the standards of his time, not ours.”

—Mark Twain, Personal Reflections of Joan of Arc

 character4wp

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Lucy and Ethel, Justin Bieber, or the Kardashian Klan. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; thus the most massive characters are seared with scars…”

—Edwin Hubbell Chapin, Discourses on the Beatitudes

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day: 

“A serpent changes his skin but not his fangs.”

—Russian saying

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Jun 6
I do have the sweetest cat on the planet: I open her mouth, drop her thyroid pill in, and she swallows it. This morning, she even purred.

Jun 6
Anyone who tells me what I should do is probably full of horsesh*t.

Jun 8
Riding the back of a flying dragon defies the laws of physics, but it’s become an entrenched fantasy trope. And hey, dragons aren’t real, PJ. My own solution to the Dragon Problem was painfully ludicrous, and I’m the only one who thinks dragon-riding is a problem, so I should just give it up.

Jun 8
To think I once got really excited and emotionally involved by beauty pageants.

Jun 9
I suppose it could be construed as unprofessional that I am sitting at my desk popping my gum loudly.

Jun 10
I’m in the process of reinventing myself yet again, always a slow and painful process, but more so because I am so distracted. I wonder who I’ll wind up being this time?

Jun 10
Jawdropping map: The 74 school shootings since Sandy Hook. http://on.mash.to/1s4lz2O 

Jun 11
Bwoogity. I got rid of the Piers Anthony books a lifetime ago. I read them in junior high and thought something was off about them even then. Now Marion Zimmer Bradley is going into the recycling bin. I won’t inflict her on any library sale or Goodwill. Blech. http://tinyurl.com/kqhh9k5  and http://tinyurl.com/cf2uv3a 

Jun 12
A swarm of bees/wasps came in my mother’s bathroom window today. The beeman is on his way. WTF.

The bees had formed a colony in our attic. They are gone now. And we caught the wasp nest just in time. Life is exciting.

The “hilarious” part is that Mom sat there for 20 minutes wondering what that buzzing sound was. Flies, maybe. Thank God, no stings. We got lucky, considering she’s half-blind. She recognized the danger and got out of harm’s way in time.

The bees were back by evening. The bee man will be returning in the morning and my mom is sleeping on the futon.

Jun 13
The bees dealt with again this morning, vents sealed. Hopefully this will do it. I’m so stressed I’ve got hives. *rimshot* Gotta laugh. It’s a ridiculous situation. Terrifying in retrospect but we bumbled our way through.

Jun 13
Whatever you love has consequences.

Jun 14
Someone egged my car last night. The neighbor’s car next to it was untouched. Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get me. It’s a late model banged up Honda Civic and the neighbor’s car is spiffy and new. Such is life.

Jun 14
Dr. John Dee has shown up as a character in so much recent spec fic that he’s practically become a new fantasy trope.

Jun 15
That was fun. I sat on a cloth garden chair and kept right on sitting until I hit the ground. Guess I shouldn’t have let it winter outside.

Jun 16
Mom fell on the way to the door to let the medical transport guy in. She said she was okay and went to dialysis but it scared the crap out of me. Dealing with all this over the phone at work while the neighbors help her is nausea-inducing.

guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt

Jun 17
I was typing in my mother’s insurance company and spell check came up with “trickster.” Which is pretty appropriate now that I think about it.

Jun 17
Products I would like to see: InstaMan, for all your hefting and moving needs. Just add water!

Jun 19
If you describe yourself as having “clarity and courage” perhaps what you have is “smugness and self-absorption.”

Jun 20
Ironic (and unfortunate) Twitter juxtaposition. http://twitpic.com/e6kxdg 

Jun 20
On the 24 hour Dodger station Mom never knows if she’s watching a replay or a live game, and the she thinks the commercials are also games.

Jun 21
Sometimes I think white people are purposely stupid when dealing with a person with a Latin accent. A lady at the donut shop asked why the whole wheat bagel was more expensive than the others. “It’s 9 grams,” said the clerk. The lady kept repeating “9 grams?” like it wasn’t perfectly clear and making the clerk also repeat herself several times. Finally I turned to the lady and said sharply “It’s because it’s heavier!” That shut her up. I smiled at the clerk & said, “Perfectly understandable to me.” The clerk laughed, gave me my receipt and said, “Thank you for everything.”

I think people do this because it’s a power trip, an attempt to assert (pseudo) authority over someone because of language differences.

Jun 22
Here’s one of our new Patty O’ Chairs. Please note: it is not cloth. It has lovely cushions which I was too lazy to bring outside.

pic.twitter.com/H4hlA1mhkS

And here’s the new bench that goes with the chairs.

http://tinyurl.com/o39ehcr

Sturdy is GOOD. The literature said it will weather to a “nice grey.” And yes, it’s very comfortable and easy to get up from. Mom had no trouble. Nor did I. They are Strathwood Gibranta if you want to look for them elsewhere.

Jun 24
Here’s a thing I don’t get: “My team just won a big game! I’m going to go out and destroy things to celebrate!”

Jun 25
The Rasta Bus I passed three miles earlier passed me as I waited for a light on Main Street. There’s a metaphor there somewhere.

Jun 25
Life is a lot like Faery: once you enter it, you can’t go back. You must go through it.

Which is the premise of one of my novels. God and the fairies know if it will ever be written.

Jun 26
I think I’ve got outrage fatigue.

Jul 15
One of the downsides of having someone in to stay with my mom while I’m at work: snooping.

Jul 16
Min disappeared for hours and we thought she’d gotten out. I combed the neighborhood for her. Finally we heard her scratching from the underside of my mother’s giant recliner. She’d gotten trapped when Mom put the footrest down. All three of us were traumatized.

Jul 16
An epiphany this morning listening to NPR about living with teenagers: caregiving is like living with a toddler and a teenager at the same time.

Jul 17
Trust is a fragile thing, and when you have an unreliable 93-year-old narrator, it’s sometimes mighty difficult to know the truth.

Jul 23
Isn’t the idea of in home care to take the burden off rather than add more stress? Did I miss a memo? We recently received a grant from the VA allowing us 12 hours of help a week but it has problems of its own.

Things could be much, much worse. June was hellish. This month things are looking up. But there are always complications.

One of the nice/complicated things: a very nice, mature, solid replacement to a snooping, manipulative, thievish sort, but with scheduling conflicts. I’m going to ride it out and let next month take care of itself because I’m exhausted and can’t take more time off and because it’s not a perfect world.

Jul 23
Proof that there is a God: http://tinyurl.com/pp7dd9e 

Jul 25
So Mom fell in her bedroom today when she was alone. Not hurt, thank G–, but the neighbor who came over to help took the opportunity to lecture me about having someone stay with her full time. “We don’t have the money. What do you suggest we do?” “Oh, well, it looks like you’ve got a situation,” she said. Indeed, we do have a situation. Mom and I will have a talk tonight about using her medical alert button next time she falls rather than calling the neighbor. I work a half hour away so it’s difficult to get home to her in a timely fashion.

People are real free with the lecturing and advice, whether they have experience with caregiving or not.

Jul 25
I used to think I was a good judge of character but recent events have shown me that may be an illusion.

Jul 27
Thunder, lightning, and downpour. What are these things?

Rain pouring down, all the windows wide open, and fans going at full blast. We are not use to humidity. It sucks.

Poor Minnie is hiding under the bed. Every thunder strike is followed by sirens. We Californians really don’t know how to drive in the rain.

Turns out the sirens were due to a lightning blast a couple of miles away at Venice Pier. One killed, several injured. In fact, today 9 people were struck by lightning on Venice Beach CA, and a man and a girl hit by a plane forced to land on Venice Beach FL.

Jul 28
I suppose it’s too late to cry, “Foul!” on spoilers for The Big Lebowski, a movie I’ve always meant to see.

Jul 28
Discuss: “All depression has its roots in self-pity, and all self-pity is rooted in people taking themselves too seriously.” ― Tom Robbins

“All” is a bit broad. Some depression has roots in brain chemical imbalances and that cannot be said to be a character flaw. There’s a constellation of causes for depression. Self-pity and taking oneself too seriously may be two.

Perhaps Mr. Robbins is a dick.

Jul 30
My latest Etsy obsession: http://tinyurl.com/n3d9l5w 

Jul 31
The whole “Unfriend a Man” thing? http://tinyurl.com/jvos6l9  I can’t think of anything more boring than being surrounded only by women. Besides, when has reverse bigotry ever solved anything? When has blaming an entire half of the species because of the actions of a few led to anything other than Elliot Rodger? If you want to live in an estrogen-only environment, more power to you. As for me, I prefer a more varied hormonal environment, with give and take and the possibility of dialogue. Keeps life interesting.

Aug 2
Mom’s confusion tonight is too vast for 140 characters but too exhausting for anything larger.

All the perky caregiver advice experts make my ass burn.

Aug 4
A lifetime ago I read Malamud’s “The Magic Barrel” and adored it. Gave me the warm fuzzies. I read it yesterday for the first time since. I barely remembered it and when I was done I thought, “Why did this loom so large in my young imagination?” I mean, I liked the story, but it wasn’t the epic turning point it had been back then. And I remembered it as much more romantic, less downbeat. Could it be that I myself was more romantic and less downbeat? One must draw the conclusion that it is possibly so. Maybe the reason it loomed so large was because for the first time I saw one could be a fabulist and still considered literary, an important distinction for me back then.

Aug 4
I just learned that my cousin, the one who was going to stay with Mom while I had surgery, passed away in her sleep last night. Shock and sorrow.

She was diabetic and had COPD, and about five or so years ago, successfully fought off breast cancer. But when she realized her health had deteriorated to the point where she’d have to go to an assisted living situation, she decided she wouldn’t take her meds anymore. Her independence was everything to her. She wanted that last bit of control, I guess.

She wanted peace. She was done. She wanted to go be with her husband, the love of her life, who passed when he was only 35. She didn’t have an easy life. I hope she found that peace she was after.

Aug 5

To make the week even more perfect I am currently sitting in the jury room at the L.A. Metropolitan Courthouse.

Aug 5
I’ve gotten to the age where when I think back to how long it’s been since I did X activity the answer is often a bit frightening.

I’m also so old I have no shame. I am wearing my steampunk bifocals (reading glasses over my distance glasses) in the jury room. I’d take a pic but, alas, no pictures allowed in the jury room.

However, in a couple of weeks I will have grown up glasses at last and my army of reading glasses will go into the recycler.

Aug 7
Much easier feeling compassion for someone’s life once they’re dead, much harder when confronted with the irritations of day to day living. I guess we always assume they’ll always be around to irritate us, no matter what our head tells us about the impermanence of life.

Aug 8
I am not a responsible adult. Whoever put me in charge of this household made a HUGE mistake.

Aug 8
A death in the family, jury duty, and two days of stomach virus. I am D-O-N-E with this week.

Random quote of the day: 

“Good sense and good nature suggest civility in general, but in good breeding there are a thousand little delicacies which are established only by custom.”

—Lord Chesterfield, quoted in Our Deportment by John H. Young

 breeding4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.”

—Joseph Heller, Catch-22

 self-made4WP@@@

 

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Talent develops in quiet,
Character in the torrent of the world.”

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Torquato Tasso

torrent4WP@@@

 

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

 2 Aug
I’ve fallen out of love. It can’t be helped. Time and distance will do that.

 3 Aug
Sometimes it is important to know when not to be a smart ass. I’ll let you know when I’ve learned that lesson.

4 Aug
If you have to hold the hem of your skirt as you walk to keep it from riding up over your ass it’s too short. Some of the men might disagree.

5 Aug
Sometimes people who yell the loudest about injustice are the ones who don’t think the rules apply to them.

6 Aug
Bought a ceramic hand jewelry stand, something I’ve wanted since I was a teenager. I realized a second later I got it mostly for that teenager.

9 Aug
Saw a crew card with “Blind Decker” posted in Venice earlier in the week. I’d swear I saw one just like it posted last year (season?).  I don’t watch the show so don’t know if he repeatedly goes blind or if it’s a continuation, but it was posted in the same exact neighborhood.

11 Aug
Dear Paul Ryan: The law of nature is kill or be killed, eat or be eaten. I guess I know which side of that law you’re on. Thems that gots.

13 Aug
There’s a world of difference between thinking up dark things to do to your characters and understanding the dark.

19 Aug
It’s tough when you Know Everything and someone comes along who knows a little more and calls your bluff.

21 Aug
I never thought I’d be this person. Life catches you unawares.

21 Aug
She considers herself a good Christian, espouses Christian values with great passion and eloquence. Yet when she gets judgmental and gossipy (which is frequent) her body gets tight and twitchy, unable to stay quiet, her voice constricted and strained, as if her spirit, her better angels, and her mind are waging a fierce struggle with each other.

 

 

I sometimes find myself fretting about my characters and disappointing my readers. Will they be disappointed, I ask myself, in a story where the freak protagonist remains a freak at the end, not magically transformed into someone more attuned to mainstream standards of beauty and social standing? Not young and strong and thin and accepted. A glorious transformation definitely takes place for this particular character I’m thinking about, but it’s all internal—with maybe a glimmer of hope at the end.

For me, as a reader, that’s all I ask: the potential for a better tomorrow. I’m not a fan of unrelieved realism and tragedy and probably would never write that kind of a story. When I was young, I thought it the only way to achieve High Art, but I don’t think that so much anymore. And I’m not so much interested in High Art, either. Just good writing.

This protagonist I’m thinking about is being punished for her sins. Not in the narrowly defined Judeo-Christian sense—as often marketed by fundamentalists and evangelicals. I don’t consider things like who is twanging who in whatever manner to be a sin, so long as everyone is a consenting adult. Sin is a word I reserve for things like murdering, cheating, manipulating, driving companies into bankruptcy, costing thousands of jobs, and the losing/looting of pension funds and properties. Fortunately, my protagonist is not a hedge fund manager or a corporate raider, so the reader may be able to find some sympathy for her.

I have a penchant for complex and not completely sympathetic characters, though. Sometimes that works out, sometimes not. They don’t always act with shining heroism and at times are a bit unstable. Or shitheads. Readers don’t always like them. That’s my fault some of the time (all the time?), because I haven’t written them with sufficient courage. I haven’t had the nerve or the foresight to take an unattractive character (or character trait) to its logical extension. I’ve tried to hedge my bets, gambling that I can charm my way past the unlikeable bits with no diminishment of heroism. I’m afraid to let the reader actively dislike the character even for a short time. You can’t really do that, I don’t think. When someone is being a shithead, you have to let them be one. You do run the risk of alienating some readers, of them putting the story down and never going back, but if you’ve set the story up right, they may stick with you for the rest of the ride to see how things work out.

Or maybe it’s a question of doing the best writing you can, the most interesting characters, and letting them find their audience. A risky stratagem, given the vagaries of the market, but the only honest way I know of approaching this. In real life human beings are often contradictory, selfish, stupid, and yet they’re not bad people. They have the potential for redemption. Those are the people I’m interested in seeing in fiction, too. Oh yeah, a good shiny-smiled hero or heroine is fun to read sometimes, but most of the time I like yellow-toothed protagonists better.

And maybe this, too, is a question of skill. Perhaps the reader can accept their contradictions, their mean streaks, their lashing out if the skill of execution is right. I know I’ve read characters like that and not thrown the book across the room. Take, for example, Chess Putnam in Stacia Kane’s wonderful Downside Ghosts series. Chess is a complete mess, makes stupid and self-destructive decisions, is her own worst enemy—and yet I love her and love reading about her even when I’m cringing hard at what she does. I keep pulling for her to snatch her backside out of the fires she throws it into time and again. She isn’t every reader’s cup of tea, but she’s mine, and wonderfully flawed and makes for compelling reading. So, the point is not to make characters that will be acceptable to every reader, but to make the writing compelling enough that readers can still find something to hold onto. Have I learned that lesson yet? I don’t know—or I know that I haven’t pulled it off all the time. I’m still working on it.

You can’t please all readers all the time. That I know for true. Some will accept the well-written shithead, some never will. That’s a matter of taste. As for the writer writing these complex people, it’s a matter of writing and revising and revising and revising and finding the balance.

Yes, that’s the truth, and the answer to my question, I suppose.

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