On Characters

This one’s going to be brief, as I’m in a rush.  Sorry!  Over the weekend I attended a going away party for my current boss, being thrown by my new boss. I expected to pop in, make my appearance, and slip back out again in half an hour. Leave it to me to find the other writer in the crowd. We wound up talking shop for about 3 hours! This was an enjoyable prospect indeed, as finding someone who DOESN’T think I’m a lunatic for having shelves full of books on forensics, serial killers, and toxicology is somewhat rare. In any event, my new friend is originally from Wisconsin and came to Mississippi via Minnesota, so we got to talking about her culture shock when she arrived about a year ago. And despite the irritations (being somewhat non-religious and moving to the Bible belt; moving to a place where summer temps regularly top 100; discovering that Mississippi is one of the least politically active states in the union), one of the things she praised was the fact that there are characters on every corner. She confessed to keeping a blog where she writes down stories about the people she meets here–and some of them her Yankee compatriots simply don’t believe.

Now certainly a diligent observer and writer can find characters anywhere, but at times it does feel like the South has more colorful ones than some places.  We are never in want of material down here.  I consider myself lucky to live somewhere so rich in characters, but sometimes I have to remind myself to look beyond my computer screen and notice them!  It’s easy to get caught up in our specific characters and in the world we create.  So I challenge you (whoever you may be) to go out in the next week with open eyes, look around, and see what and who you can see.  Write up a character sketch about someone you see (or even better, meet).  Your work will be the richer for it.

2 thoughts on “On Characters

  1. Nice post, Kettle.

    I grew up in the Northeast, spent a decade on the West Coast, and have been here in the South going on four years. I’d say that’s very true. Lord knows there are characters everywhere you go, but the South… well, it’s different here. Some would say better.

    I would be among them.

  2. This is the truth. LOL! I was in the grocery store, oh, a couple of weeks ago, and there was this little old lady going around shopping and just a talking, like me, and at one aisle, she said, “I’m skipping that one, I’ve only so many steps left in me and I don’t need to waste em on cereal.”

    I just smiled and agreed. Then I came home and attached that trait to one of my characters.

    The July 4th street party (all new neighbors and young) about did me in, though. These were casino people, and good grief, I had to keep silent in order not to laugh and laugh and laugh. And I’m not a snob, but I had not been to anything like that EVER. If you know what I mean.

    Tell your friend that I am a lefty politically. A Catholic and I have survived the Bible Belt–she can too. Just enjoy the color. It’s really a great state, though it’s poor.

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