March 02, 2012

Villains & Cool Kids

In high school, there were two girls who I called friends for a time. Until one day I pulled up with my lunch tray and they said, "We don't really want you to sit with us anymore."

It was pretty much like that.

Why am I telling you this? Aside from the fact that apparently I enjoy sharing my embarrassing pain, I've been thinking about character, about bitterness and villainy. Because it hurt me when they said that, and I've clutched that pain to my chest for these years, crushed it into angry diamonds. How could they do such a thing? I asked myself.

And just the other day my paradigm shifted. The thing about people--and characters--is that no one is the villain of her own story.

Maybe those girls weren't trying to be mean. Maybe I was really annoying. Maybe I was obtuse, ignorant to the many gentle signals they tried to give me, pushing me away. Maybe my clumsy, desperate attempts to be loved made me repulsive. Should they have been forced to suffer through my presence every day for the rest of high school? Of course not. It seems to me now that they were only being honest with me, respectfully direct.

And yeah, my mind is blown. But this is exactly the kind of character insight that makes for well-rounded characters, flawed "heroes" and sympathetic "villains."

Speaking of cool kids (which we weren't, really--the girls I aspired to be friends with weren't cheerleaders or even star theatre nerds; they were quirky potheads, themselves pretty far down the social pyramid). But speaking of cool kids, I am a lucky writer-girl now. I've sidled up to a new lunchroom table, and no one has yet asked me to leave. We have a blog, over at horrificmiscueseattle.wordpress.com, and from time to time I will be posting content there, if my talented new friends will keep tolerating me.

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