Bad Boys, Writing and Poison Ivy

This week has been a strange mix of highs and lows. It seems like they all kind of balance out in the end… but still it’s been somewhat exhausting.

 Monday was incredibly hectic at work.  With just one other person in the office, we had about 6 customers between 10-11 Monday morning, all of whom demanded some special attention (usually all at once).  Generally it’s not an issue.  But being so short staffed, and since we’re supposed to always have someone available to answer the phones, it got a little crazy.  And by special attention, I don’t just mean they asked for a price or two.  Usually working in an antique shop is fun.  And rather easy.  The people that come in are generally content to walk around and see all of the amazing pieces that we have.  But Monday was a different story.  Everyone needed to have something moved or opened or lifted or have photos taken of something.  We were measuring and opening tables and searching for keys for cabinets and digging out sconces.  It was insane.  (And also the first Low on the scale)

BUT I got to see my favorite one of our shippers (who I may or may not have a crush on).  When I first met him 8 months ago he made a joke about us going on a date.  I don’t know… I’ve kind of liked him ever since.  Plus, he’s sweet… and you can tell just a major teddy bear kinda guy.  And in a place where no one calls me by my preferred first name (really long story), the fact that he does is kind of a breath of fresh air. (Definite high)

HOWEVER… Monday, I also discovered that I have poison ivy.  BADLY.  It’s disgusting and oozing and last night I got so fed up with how DEFORMED I look, I broke down and cried.  Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so emotional about things.  But I choose to blame the prednisone. (MAJOR LOW).

OK, so maybe they didn’t exactly even out… I feel like there were more lows than highs…. but I’ll live.  I got to spend time with one of my bestest friends over the weekend.  We went with a group of friends to see Hunger Games (which was definitely amazing).  I made some new friends and have a great new source for book recommendations.  The hour and a half drive to MA really isn’t that bad, but I admittedly don’t make the trip as often as I’d like to.  Sometimes I wish things weren’t so busy all the time.

Anyway- enough wallowing.  What I really want to talk about today is characters.  Well, one type of character in particular.  I know I’ve touched on this before- but now that I’m back into writing my story, I really want to explore this a little more.

You see, for as long as I can remember, my literary boy dreams have been about one particular type of guy-  The bad boy.

Well, more like bad boys that are really good.  (Because really, bad boys with no redemptive qualities are just… bad.)

When I was younger, it was as innocent as Mr. Darcy- with his brooding ways and perceived pride by Elizabeth.  He was never actually a bad boy, but he and Elizabeth always had that opposites attract thing going on that really just stuck with me.

And then there was Gilbert Blythe.  *sigh* 

He may not have really been a bad boy either-  but you could always tell that he enjoyed the mischief he caused.  I mean look at that picture.  You’re picturing him whispering “Hey Carrots!” right now, aren’t you?  I know I am.  Anyway…. Gilbert had that innate quality that made you want to scream at him and run to his arms all at the same time.  At least- that’s what I always wanted to do thought Anne should have done.

Through the years, my interest shifted from good boys that act bad: Michael from Grease 2… (stop laughing.  It’s a guilty pleasure movie), Sam from Supernatural (the early years), to bad boys that have something redemptive in them.  Jess from Gilmore girls, Damon from Vampire Diaries.

 

Michael from Grease 2

For some reason, I’ve always had a thing for Michael.  He’s like the geek of all geeks because he finds a way to get the pretty, popular girl.  I think there’s something in me that relates to him and his struggle.  The one person he really wants is looking for something so completely opposite of who he is.  He’s the smart, studious Teacher’s Pet.  And as Stephanie so oddly sings about…. she wants a bad boy, a ‘cool rider’.  I like that song.  I know, there’s something so wrong and cheesy it’s not even funny.  But she says “if he’s cool enough he can burn me through and through.”  So Michael decides to become a bad boy for her… and in the end, she realizes that she really likes both aspects of Michael when she finds out who he really is. Blah- I’m admitting way too much about the absolute geek that I am here. ha.

Sam from Supernatural (the early years). 

Before Sam got himself hooked on demon blood steroids (let’s just make this a don’t ask/don’t tell type deal, K? K.), he had so much potential. In college studying law- no one would have known that he spent the first 18 years of his life learning how to hunt all of the things that go bump in the night.  His easy smile and quirky, geeky ways were so charming.  And then he’d turn around and kill some nasty urban legend baddie (like Bloody Mary or the Wendigo) and turn into a completely different person.  I was in love.

Jess from Gilmore girls

Despite being messed up by both his absent father and his jumping from one bad relationship to the next mother, Jess turned his tortured childhood into the ultimate snarky, bad boy with a good heart.  It always amused me how strikingly different he was around Rory than anyone else.  Granted, it made it difficult for anyone but her to see the good in him, but eventually most people came around. 

Damon from Vampire Diaries– (insert swoon here). 

There’s something about Damon… He’s snarky and sarcastic.  He’s passionate even though he doesn’t always let it show.  He’s conflicted and flawed.  So often characters on TV are portrayed as someone that’s unattainable.  And despite the fact that the whole vampire thing IS unattainable, there’s something about the humanity of Damon that is intriguing.  He hides his true feelings.  He buries them and pushes them down because even though he’s in love with this girl, he knows that she can do better than him.  But at the same point, he’s dark and dangerous and you never know what he’s going to do.  (Can you tell I have a thing for him? haha)

 I could probably go on for days listing all of these amazing characters.  There’s just something about them.  They’re conflicted and unpredictable.  It’s almost like being drawn to the beauty of a flame.  You know if you get too close, you’ll run the risk of getting burned.  But sometimes you just want to see how close you can get.

So, it should probably come as no surprise that my main character, Dallas, has a lot of these characteristics.  In my head, I can see the way he acts- the way he keeps everyone at arms length.  I can see the snarky attitude and the dark and dangerous unpredictability.  He’s actually gotten a lot clearer in my head recently.  I’ve been going back over my 50,000 or so words that I’ve already written.  And I can see so many places where I’ve boxed him in.  I’ve made Dallas someone that I want him to be instead of letting his character just be.  I’m reminded of the quote that goes something like “people who follow the rules rarely make history.”  Dallas and Lia and their friends… they become history makers in this story.  And in so many instances, I’m making them follow the rules.  I’m keeping them tied up in a nice neat little box and just letting them out when I want to.

Hopefully this all doesn’t make me sound too incredibly crazy.  It’s hard to say “I want to let my characters be their own person” when they’re not really people.  But they kind of are… all stuck up there in my head.

But regardless of all of that, I want this story to ring true.  I want it to be authentic and not fall flat.  And in so many of the scenes that I’ve written, I feel like it’s falling flat.  The characters don’t have the depth that they should.  And I’m finding myself more and more discouraged that I won’t get it right.  I want someone to be able to picture and envision my characters the way I have with books since I was little.  Before Jonathan Crombie, Gilbert Blythe was in my head.  I could see him.  I knew who he was.

And I just want my characters to have that same ability.

I know that writing takes time.  I know it won’t happen over night.  And I want to be the best writer that I can.  I don’t write to become published.  I write because I love words and the effect that they can have.  I just want my writing to matter.

Maybe I need to work on taking my own advice and
Be Brave,

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Holding Out For A Hero

I’m not really sure why people put so much stock in the whole Valentine’s Day thing.  It’s just another day of the year.  A day to show appreciation to the person that we love most.  Is that really so terrible?

And yes, I can find mushy couples just as vomit-inducing as the next single girl, but I have to admit that when it comes to being in a relationship on Valentine’s Day, it’s not so bad.  Granted, it’s been years since I’ve actually been in a relationship on what some people call “Single Awareness Day”  but that doesn’t change the fact that being in love has a lot to do with people’s attitudes on this particular day.

That being said, you have to wonder how our society has built so much of an empire on days designed for individual people.  Shouldn’t the people that we care about always feel special and loved?  And I’m not just talking about our significant others.  Mothers Day, Father’s Day, Veteran’s Day.  Why is it that every other day of the year is a day that we can take these people completely for granted, and think we can make up for it with a bouquet of flowers or dinner?

Anyway- little rant over… this post is more about what I’m looking forward to in the future.  The kind of man that I want and the kind of woman I want to be.

Last Saturday we had a “Valentine’s” dinner at my church.  Every year we do a ladies appreciation dinner where the men cook and serve and the women can relax and enjoy each other’s company.  This year, instead of doing a ‘newly wed’ game or something similar, we watched a movie.  It was a movie that I saw with the last b/f in the theaters and cried my eyes out at.  It’s also an amazingly powerful movie and says so much about what Godly, God fearing men should be.

The movie is called Courageous.  Basically it’s a story about 5 men (4 of them cops) and their determination to become better husbands and fathers.  They each take a good long look at their lives, and they sign a resolution to make each day count.  It’s a touching story about hard choices and love.  About life and loss and how we handle each decision we make.  The final scene is a powerful portrayal of one of the men standing before his entire church.  Here is his speech:

   “There are some men who, regardless of the mistakes we’ve made in the past, regardless of what our fathers did not do for us, will give the strength of our arms and the rest of our days to loving God with all that we are and to teach our children to do the same—and whenever possible, to love and mentor others who have no father in their lives but who desperately need help and direction. And we are inviting any man whose heart is willing and courageous to join us in this resolution.

God’s Word shows us that God desires for every father to courageous step up and do whatever it takes to be involved in the lives of his children. More than just being there for them or providing for them, he is to walk with them through their young lives and be a visual representation of the character of God, their Father in heaven. Who will accept the responsibility of providing and protecting my family? Who will ask God to break the chain of destructive patterns in my family? Who will pray for, and bless my children to boldly pursue whatever God calls them to do? 

In my home, the decision has already been made. You don’t have to ask who will guide my family because, by God’s grace, I will. You don’t have to ask who will teach my son to follow Christ because I will.”

So where are you, men of courage? Where are you, fathers who fear the Lord?   It’s time to rise up and answer the call God has given you and say, I will! I will! I will!

I think that quote packs enough punch to knock anyone down a peg or two.  It was enough to cause me to take a look at my own life, and think about what choices I’m making now that could help me become the wife and mother that I want to be some day.

I also think that this movie is a great indication of why I’m waiting.  Of why I’m taking this year off of men.  I always thought that I knew exactly what I wanted in a guy.  How many times over the years have I daydreamed about Gilbert Blythe or Mr. Darcy or Danny Zuko?  Too many to count.

And even though I always thought I knew what I wanted in a guy… this movie made me doubletake with one major line.  During a conversation, Adam (one of the cops) explains that he wants to be a better father.  His partner looks at him and says “You’re being too hard on yourself.  You’re a good enough father.”  Adam’s reply is what really struck a cord with me.  He said “I don’t want to be good enough.”  There’s something very alluring about being ‘good enough’.  Not in the sense that we all want to be ‘good enough’ for something, but in the sense that sometimes we do as little as possible.  We do just enough to get by.  We settle for being ‘good enough’ when we should be specatcular.

I think so often in life, we let our schedules dictate our lives.  We focus on the most demanding, the most pressing matters above anything else.  And sometimes, that’s good.  We all have things that we need to do.  But those things aren’t the only things that matter.  Because work and school and hobbies don’t have souls.  But friends, family, kids- those do.  We need to remember to invest our time in people- because in the end, people are really the only thing that matter.

I just recently started re-reading through the book called Captivating: Unveiling the Mysteries of a Woman’s Soul.  It’s a book about women, why we have the needs and desires that we do, and understanding that having these desires is not wrong.  In fact, God made us to have three big desires in our souls.

1. To be romanced
2. To play an irreplaceable role in a grand adventure
3. To unveil beauty

There are a lot of things about this book that leave me wary.  It paraphrases Scripture more than it actually uses it.  But at the same time, I think it points to some major issues that women deal with, and things that tug at our heart strings over and over again.  It tries to explain the constant longing we feel for the three ‘big desires’ of our hearts and how God specifically made us that way.  It’s not another 12 step “How to be a better woman” book.  It’s more of an encouragement that we are fearfully and wonderfully made just the way we are.  It’s a book that acknowledges how hard women try to be perfect, to be everything.  It explores the feelings that we have of constantly being ‘not enough’ but at the same time feeling like we’re ‘too much’.  We’re not strong enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough.  But we’re too emotional, too careful, too caring.

I think every woman has felt this way before.  And I like that Captivating is a book designed to help us feel secure in the person that we are.  It’s not meant to be a fix-all.  It’s an attempt to identify the places in our hearts that God has made especially for Himself to be like Himself. 

Being single on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be hard (despite the fact that I work across the street from a florist).  Sure, it may not be my favorite day of the year to be single on… but whose to say I can’t still get flowers and chocolate?  Spend an evening cooking myself a delicious meal and watching a sappy movie.  Maybe today is the perfect day to daydream about Gilbert Blythe and Mr Darcy and Danny Zuko.  So long as I don’t lose sight of what is really important.  Because all three of those guys have something in common.  They’re great stories, but as far as a Courageous, Godly man go… I’m not quite sure how they stack up.

On a better note, I’ve been adding more to my story.  What’s that you say?  You want a sneak peak?  Okay… I suppose I can do that.  But I’m only sharing two paragraphs.

Lia dragged the bag of clothes down the hall to the door at the very end.  She turned the handle and pulled; both the door and frame swollen from the heat refused to budge.  Dropping the bag and gripping the knob with both hands, Lia pulled again, harder until the door yielded to her demands and swung open.  She hadn’t expected it to actually open and the force of her pulling on the knob left her off balance when it finally gave in.

Flipping the light switch on just inside the door, Lia sighed when nothing happened.  She wasn’t all-together surprised.  Who knew when the last time was that anyone was up there?  Backtracking to the linen closet down the hallway, Lia found a flashlight in the emergency kit and clicked it on.  Shining it up the stairs into the attic, Lia began up the stairs, pulling the garbage bag full of her grandfather’s old clothes with her.

So what happens next?  Well… it’s a secret.  But you’re more than welcome to guess if you want.  I finally have momentum with this story again.  I’m really excited to see what happens.  I think it’s going to be good!

To all my single ladies out there…
Be brave,