For today’s blog, I’m participating in a nifty little exercise circling the Twitterverse: writers doing character sketches of themselves.
Blogger Isabel Costello kicked it off and another blogger Susan Elliot Wright took it a step further, unleashing it on Twitter.
Isabel makes the case that like people, characters are influenced by their ancestors, environment, habits, personality and skills. The exercise is designed to help writers think of their characters as real people, but also, it’s been a neat way for folks typing away for far too many hours a day to get to know each other a bit.
And so, my character sketch of, er, me is below. If you’d like to share one of your own, please do! And share it on Twitter under #realcharacter.
I come from a fairly stubborn and driven mix of genes—Italian, Slovak and Polish, to be exact. I believe my ancestral lineage largely explains my love of all things doughy: pasta, bread, cake…really anything made with any kind of dough whatsoever. I’m not very choosy. I blame my ancestors for my hips.
I come from the suburbs of Cleveland, a city that seems to get so little respect but was such a lovely place to grow up and, now, to visit. It’s been nearly two decades that I’ve lived in New York City and called it home. People say that officially makes you a New Yorker, but I will never be one. I’m a polite Midwest transplant through and through. Except on those rare occasions when I completely lose my mind if a taxi/car service refuses to heed my directions and instead takes a traffic-choked, roundabout route. At those times, like, say, on the day of my wedding, I will wreck you with words, storm out of the car, look over my shoulder, white gown a flowin’ to yell more obscenities at you, then meet my horrified husband for pictures. Alarmingly and quite embarrassingly, a true story.
I used to run for miles and miles before my knees and hamstrings staged a revolt. Now I run less and instead subject my body to the rigors of Bikram yoga. For whatever reason, it doesn’t seem like a workout unless I feel like I’m about to pass out. That makes me sound so much more intense than I actually am. I really am much nicer…I mean, unless you’re driving me around, ignoring the advice I’ve given.
Also, I adore dark chocolate and consume entirely too much of it. Because it has similar benefits as red wine (I read that on the Internets, hence, it's true), in my house, chocolate is akin to a health food.
I’m starting to not like my character sketch…God, what does that say about me? It’s funny when you start pulling out little bits of a person, how large they can read if not supported by anything else. Let’s make me rounder.
Maybe this is just because I’m no longer in my '20s (or, ahem, my '30s), but I tend to be cautious, too concerned about stepping on toes, or being too bold. In a roomful of people, I’m not the woman who confidently goes up to strangers, introduces myself and starts talking. I’m the gal loitering around the bread and cheese station hoping someone comes and talks to me. It’s crazy to think that I was a reporter for a decade when meeting strangers and talking to them was the essence of my job. Perhaps I’m complex?
Despite the occasional screaming banshee that unleashes itself, I’m actually a softie. I cry at ASPCA commercials, at any sort of report of animal cruelty/neglect, really. The Muppets have been known to do me in emotionally as well, along with my 8-year-old nephew’s handwriting, which is honestly the sweetest thing I’ve seen all year.
Our pup, all 12 pounds of him, owns me. That woman being led around by a blonde Shih Tzu, the one who’s kowtowing to his every need, every desire? The one giving him yet another treat? That’s me. Alpha, I am not.
The one thing I’m actually quite good at is cooking. Aside from writing (which, let’s be honest, the jury is still out whether there’s an iota of talent there), cooking is my passion and my hobby. It’s what I’m doing when I’m not sweating, yelling or walking the dog. I make my own chocolate truffles, preserve my own organic Meyer lemons and cook dinner nearly every night for my husband and me. Of course, I also set an entire side of salmon ablaze one summer while grilling, but that was years ago. And, I feel the need to keep pointing this out to my family: No one was injured! Sheesh.
Something else I do every year: write a picture book for my nieces and nephews. That’s part of their Christmas gift. I take photos (elaborately staged shots of the pup, his toys and, occasionally, produce), write the story and have it professionally bound. In fact, in five households, I can proudly say, my picture books are a trilogy. So, suck it, Hunger Games!
One More Thing
Everyone’s life has a turning point, and mine is no different. It was nearly seven years ago, at 34th Street and Second Avenue, the place where I met my husband. On that sunny day, my head had no idea what was happening, but my heart most certainly did.