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.