"Keep scribbling! Something will happen." Frank McCourt

Friday, May 14, 2010

We're all a bunch of Characters

People have said to me many times throughout my life, "Teresa, you're such a character". But if you want to see a bunch of characters- observe middle school students. That's what I did last Saturday evening.

My daughter has a friend who is a Middle School drama teacher or sponsor. She invited my daughter to her MS play and my daughter invited me to go along. I’ve been to many school plays because um - I work for a school district. Sometimes, I want them to be over soon and others – I truly enjoy –seeing the potential in the players. I’m so glad I went see The Music Man and its cast of characters. L did the greatest job of directing this musical and the students did a good job too.

But the story I want to tell, the characters I found very entertaining, I observed at intermission.

I walked out of the auditorium through the double doors behind me –not the door I came in originally- which of course always confuses me since I have a delicate condition called, Directionally Challenged. I thought a smart thing to do would be to follow two MS girls since I was certain they were giggling their way in the direction of the restroom. But, right before the ramp that took us to the restroom area, a woman was guarding something and saying, “Stay over there, sorry, but someone got sick at their stomach.”

Oh yeah, “they” got sick all the way up the ramp and turning the corner.

The little gals in front of me went hysterical- or maybe that was me, in my mind.

“Oh sick,” the first girl squealed. “This is gross.”

“When does it stop?” the other girl said.

I wondered the same.

The stench reached our noses. The first girl grabbed her nose, “Oh it smells,” she whined and turned her head away and then veered toward the stomach spill.

“Watch out, don’t step in it.” The second girl pulled on the arm of her friend just in time to save her shoes.

“When will it stop?” One of the girls repeated.

Both girls started gagging. Out loud. Heartfelt. This made it worse.

“Step around it.” One girl guided the other to the restroom. Then it was over.

I wanted to laugh out loud and hold my breath at the same time, but I was afraid I would pass out, you know and fall in the.... 

The girls were interesting characters.

Sometimes, I purposely observe strangers to get ideas for characters for my writing. Other times, characters fall in my lap, like the MS girls.

I often find characters in places I visit, life's circumstances, and the dialogue that I hear. I ran into a couple of characters for my most recent short story in an elevator at a Hilton, near St. Louis. They are clever characters and not to be trusted.

Writing never leaves me. I even think about it at middle school musicals and in elevators.

16 comments:

  1. Well Teresa....you've got the writer's eye and ear. My husband (also a writer.... and playwright) spends a lot of time listening and looking....even writes things down when the nuances grab his ear. He often says about some of this stuff he records....."You could never write this"....but write it he does. He calls it "slices of life"...for that's what they are. Keep doing what you're doing, and as in this post, you find characters and dialogue in the most unusual places !

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  2. Great story! And you're right...you're seeing the world through the writing lens. It's a good thing. :) I used to want to turn it off sometimes, but now I just enjoy it.

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  3. WD, Ohhh I didn't know he is a writer. He's right on that in life sometimes "you could never write this". Life is interesting and gives the writer material -thankfully.

    Elizabeth, I too (use to) wanted to turn off the world. Some of it is so terrible and sometimes just stupid. Now I just jot down what I can use.

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  4. After reading all these interesting blogs by authors like you, I now look at people around me a little different. I wonder how they would fit in as characters in various books. Gotta love the MS girls.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  5. Hm, YA is hot right now. Maybe a new YA book is brewing here?

    I'm the same way. I'm "writing" every waking minute, in some way. I think that just living an aware life is a big aspect of the craft.

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  6. The world is filled with good stories all we have to do is face it with eyes wide open and be aware of our surroundings. Middle School is a hoot, I taught Middle School Special Ed.....now that's a horse of a different color! I can honestly there was never a dull day although I never did come up with a good adjective to describe my days!

    Enjoy your day, you little character! :o)

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  7. Mason, We could be the characters. :)

    Joanne, I love this statement. "I think that just living an aware life is a big aspect of the craft." I'll add to this, Living an aware life - is the only way to live.

    Nezzy, Woot. Some of my best friends over the years have been SpEd teachers.

    Gail. Thank you. Hope you feel better soon.

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  8. Yes, when you choose to become a writer, everyone you meet is a potential character.

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  9. Schools are a wonderful place to study behavior. I think it would be creepy if I just hung out there and watched people but the mall has plenty of young people to watch and gather material for.

    CD

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  10. What a great story! There's nothing like middle school kids, or any kids for that matter, for great people watching.

    I can relate to the writing always being present part. Occasionally when we're out together my husband will say, "You're writing aren't you?" And he's always right.

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  11. They're everywhere! We cannot escape our characters. They are everywhere we go--- and even when we look in the mirror.

    Lee
    May 17th FIFTEEN FANTASY ISLAND FAVORITES

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  12. Ms girls....... hmmm..... really funny... thnx for the characters.. im also one.. no doubt at times
    xoxo
    Naqvee

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  13. Teresa, this is so funny. I carry a note pad and am forever making notes. My poor husband. The faces he makes when he sees me writing down something. I am kind to him, I only write one word to jog my memory, but that's enough to send him into a tail spin. lol It's just too precious to let go.

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  14. Hi Teresa .. amazing how reactionary youngsters are .. and how they go round in twosomes!

    Characters are all around us aren't they .. and creatures too ..

    The parents .. did you see how they reacted? Oh dear ..

    Good creative arena! Glad you enjoyed the production .. Have a happy Sunday .. Hilary

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  15. Actually every one spends a lot of time looking and hearing around; but only few can beautifully write down what thay "see" or "feel".
    You're one of them! Really gifted!
    Hope you're having a great weekend!
    B xx

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