I think I have found my true calling. Or perhaps my true disposition. Not sure whether this is a new quality in me, or one that I’ve been refusing to acknowledge all along, but I have a streak of curmudgeonality in me.
I dream of telling it like it is, and damn the consequences. I am full of trenchant observations and sardonic quips that rarely see the air. I am, in my head, a snarkier Oscar Wilde, able to devastate a verbal opponent with one thrust from my rapier wit.
I long to come out as an essential crabbist. Being the well-raised woman I am, possessed of a less-than-robust ego strength, I keep that side of me hidden. Mostly. In countless acts of emotional cowardice, I save my after-the-fact verbal piercings to moments when I am alone. But they are gems, trust me.
Keeping those urges hidden can be a punishing exercise. Unreleased, held inside, snark festers. Sometimes it builds to such internal pressure that it can do nothing but explode.
However, I have found an outlet for the crabby, sarcastic, in-your-face me: Characters.
Byrne in Everything. McGill in The Spiritkeeper. The worst in them is, frankly, the best of the worst in me. The insecurity. The uncertainty. The pristine, perfect unlikeability. The shaking fear of that unlikeability. The mouth that stays one rude step ahead of wisdom. The impulsiveness. Me. All me.
Unfortunately enough, characters are not a safety valve for the releasing—the freeing—of those questionable qualities. The load-bearing beings on the page are not a way of resolving the inner icks. If anything, anything at all worthy, they are evidence of an over-developed sense of self-awareness. They fix nothing in me. But they give plenty to the writing.
Unpleasantness in a character is a great start for a journey. As my dear friend Mary and I talked about last night, the thorny character at the beginning is not the same as the character who evolves throughout the story to emerge changed at the end. If she is not quite likeable by then, at least she is more sympathetic, more understandable.
If only personal journeys in “real” life were as clear, as resolvable, as manageable. In the meantime I remain a closeted curmudgeon, playing the snark card in my dreams.
I’m probably safer that way.