Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tag, You're It

I've been "tagged" apparently by someone named Rachel (??). I'm not sure I'm doing this right, but it seems like fun! I'm not sure I can find the requisite number of other bloggers to tag, but I'll do my best.

Here are the rules I was sent:
Here are the rules as posted by Turning Pages:1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.2. People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.3. At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Okay, 8 random to make this interesting.

1. I was a twin, but my twin died a few hours after birth. I didn't find out about her until I was 12 years old. My mother told a friend of hers, and her daughter told me the story. I didn't believe it at first. I wanted to know where my twin (Mary) was buried, but my mother said she didn't know. Sometimes I wonder what life would have been like had she lived. But my younger sister and I are best friends and that might not have happened had Mary been around.
2. I spent 15 years working for the son of the artist Henri Matisse. Pierre Matisse owned a gallery in NYC and I was the gallery manager. He told THE most interesting stories! It was quite an experience.
3. My first husband had a heart attack at 44 and dropped dead on my kitchen floor. He had diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, etc. My 17 year old daughter was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago. Hopefully modern advances will make her life very different!
4. My other daughter will be 23 tomorrow! 23 years ago tonight I was sitting on the sofa in the living room timing my contractions (far, far apart). I was too excited to sleep so I spent all night reading and re-reading the first two pages of "The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe. My second daughter was almost born in a Chinese restaurant.
5. I lived in NYC for 10 years which was wonderful! Then I commuted for almost another 20.
6. I hate oatmeal and any kind of mushy cereal or food stuff. It's not the taste, it's the texture.
7. I recently took up yoga which I LOVE.
8. I am SO boring. Trying to think of something for number 8. Okay. Not about me but family stuff. Both my grandmothers were very strong women. Jennie was a garment worker in NYC. Single parent when her husband died when my dad was 3. She raised/paid for a bunch of nieces and nephews too. She went on strike because the factory owners were Jewish and gave their workers Saturday off (their holy day). the worker were mostly Catholic and wanted Sunday off. So...they struck. And that's one of the origins of the two day weekend!
My other grandmother was from Hungary. Her family decided to immigrate to the US. She was only six and not able to work. They left her sitting in the train station on Christmas Eve while they started their journey to America. She was taken to an orphanage and then sent to work when she was 10. She worked for a Hungarian actress who taught her a lot. She finally came to this country after WWI when she was in her early 20s.

I need to tag some people, but first I need to figure out how to do that!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

How Do You Do Normal?

I'm in an online group (I'm in a LOT of online groups!) and there is currently a guest "instructor" who is giving us exercises in character building. It's been great fun. Once he just gave us a line..."Gary hated weddings" and we had to run with it using details to show Gary hating weddings as opposed to coming right out and saying it. Another time we had to develop a character in a couple of paragraphs starting with the line "Amy stared out at the sea of faces." This last one was great...create a character you hate...but show them having one redeeming feature.

The last exercise got me thinking. I had no trouble creating the character. She came alive on the page and in my mind in an instant. But she's not a "normal" character. She's obnoxious, opinionated, unkind, etc. Easy to bring her to life. What's hard is bringing a "normal" character to life without descending into quirkiness. My current protag for instance is a 30-something woman. I don't want to define her as someone who "doesn't eat he green M&Ms" or who "sings karaoke" once a week. But it's hard to get "normal" but "real" across on the page.

Here is my nasty old lady:

"We're good Christians you know," The woman reluctantly opened the screen door a little wider and let the police detective in.

"But when the boy came to the door, asking for help…?" The detective raised her hands questioningly as she looked around.

"Might as well have a seat." The woman pointed toward a stiff looking armchair that took up a large amount of space in the tiny room. Her lips thinned, and she raised her chin slightly as she took her own seat, a comfortably worn chaise with a knitting bag within easy reach. "The Bible tells us to shun that kind of lifestyle."

"But surely that doesn't mean you can't help…"

"He made his choice. Time these people learned they can't go bending the good word of the Lord to suit themselves." The woman's mouth snapped shut like a rubber band.

"But he was bleeding," the detective leaned forward in her seat. "Surely Christ preached compassion for our fellow man." She held her hands out in supplication.

The woman shook her head.

The sound of claws echoed on the polished wooden floor and a tiny, white terrier jumped into the woman's lap. Her face softened, and she stroked its nappy fur. "This is our Baby. Found him at the pound. Poor thing had been nearly starved to death. Who could do something like that to one of God's creatures?" She buried her face in the dog's worn fur.