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The Golden Rule for writers?

I'd like to say that I don't feel sorry for myself -- that I never raise my arms to the sky and whimper "Why me?"

But I do feel sorry for myself on a rather regular basis, and it triggered a thought on my way home from work today that I am a character in a book -- that all writers are characters in other writers' books, and our stories are determined by the way we treat our characters.


When I ask "why me," I have to consider: Am I a benevolent writer, or am I a cruel and twisted writer? The answer -- considering the joy it brings me to snap photos of my children crying -- is that I am the writer equivalent to (choose your evil dictator). 

I would certainly take away my protagonist's livelihood within hours of her giving birth naturally to an 8-pound baby who never sleeps. But I would be meaner than the putz who's writing my story -- I'd make the baby weigh 12 or 15 pounds, and I'd give her long, sharp fingernails.

I'm a vengeful sort of person, but I'm also a chicken shit. Instead of risking my life and freedom smashing people's knee caps with a tire iron, I model characters after my targets. I change their back stories, names and physical attributes; and strap them in my Fleet Street barber chair

Imagine a woman in her 40s -- we'll name her Edith Vogle. Her shoulder-length hair is mostly gray. She's chewed her nails down to nothing exposing her red, swollen fingertips crusted with super glue. It's a quarter after noon. Fourth-period French is just getting started, but Edith left school early today.

Apricot, Edith's 20-year-old niece, needs a hero. She called Edith from the hospital, because her boyfriend, Randy, lost both sets of toes in a poker game the night before, while the couple's children -- ages 1 and 3 -- were home alone with a peanut-butter sandwich and a medium-sized glass of water.

Apricot is leaving with the children, but she needs Edith to fetch Randy. "He's only able to crawl right now. Can you please stay with him for a couple of hours, and make him something to eat?"


Am I a GOOD witch, or am I a BAD witch?

I have a couple of options as a writer. I can make Edith the forgiving, Christian sort, OR I can make her a vigilante with a sense a humor. Suppose she carries a bottle of prescription strength laxatives in her purse, and suppose she smashes up a handful of pills and sprinkles the powder on Randy's dinner so the poor bastard craps himself crawling to the bathroom.

I choose LAXATIVES.

So the next time I'm feeling sorry for myself wondering why MY life is so difficult compared to everyone else's; I'll have an answer. I'm living the life that malevolent writers deserve.

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