It's a long road to becoming a published author. Will that long cherished dream finally be mine? We'll have to wait and see!
The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible - Vladimir Nabokov
There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you - Zora Neale Hurston
29 May 2010
Facets of Character
My weekly blog post is a bit late for several reasons (such as preparing for my husband's art exhibition), but the biggest setback was having two days eaten up by a lab retreat at Umina beach. Normally, driving one and a half hours out of the city to stay in a cabin by the beach would be a great thing, but winter is closing in (so no snorkeling) and this was a work get together--which means no free time and no fun.
I spent both days listening to talks, giving one of my own, and engaging in scientific discussions. I was forced to eat too much food, but that's another story. Afternoons were spent in group bonding, which, with icy rain pelting the tennis court, meant board games in the boss's cabin.
There's nothing like the fish out of water scenario to reveal whole new facets of people's character. Most of the group banded together for a game of "Cranium", similar to charades, except people can draw, sculpt, act, or sing the clues. It was a surprise to learn who could sing well and who couldn't even hum. One girl had a talent for guessing, getting "James Bond 'Goldeneye'" from an abstract line sketched on paper. And apparently everyone has seen the dead-body-being-dragged-around episode of "Fawlty Towers". There was lots of laughter, and the fun sides of people (who are normally severe and composed in lab) were revealed.
I was not in the "Cranium" group. Somehow, I ended up playing "Scrabble" with a bunch of Type A personalities, including my boss. I tried to tune out all the jokes and laughter behind me so I could focus on the serious business at hand--winning a game I'd never played before. Yes, odd that a writer has never played Scrabble, but I've seen it on TV, so I at least knew how to set up my tiles.
My boss is a kind and supportive person, and he helped me learn the rules and get going. Cranium is not the only game to bring out different facets in people, however. Once I did start winning, my boss's ruthless side emerged. He was constantly questioning the scorekeeper, making sure every point was properly credited to him, and he insisted that the oddest words were "in the dictionary". Whatever. I like to win, but I don't get crazy about it.
Still, luck was on my side, and I was the first to use up all my tiles, after composing "Zen" and "grout". The points were on my side too--I'd won! No, the boss quickly demanded a recount. Even upside down he could see the addition had an error. OK, he won by three points, and all was right with the world. Calm, friendly boss man was back. I had a hard time stifling my mirth but shared a few rolled eyeball looks with the scorekeeper.
I also saw a whole new side of our usually perky, resident chemist. He lost badly and refused to play again, preferring to sit cross-armed in a childish huff. I smothered my grin and slipped away to my cabin at the earliest opportunity.
There's nothing like competition to bring out people's true character. When you're writing your next story and creating protagonists, ask yourself whether they're the Cranium or Scrabble type and how they react to winning or losing. You'll understand them a whole lot better.
I've been writing all my life (even won a trophy in first grade) but it got shoved to the back of the closet (writing as a priority as well as my trophy) because I was too "levelheaded" for that nonsense. Now, twenty years later, I've learned a flat head isn't all it's cracked up to be. Writing is the one thing I felt I had to do, and I always told myself I'd write a book someday. Well, it IS someday.