character / fear / gender / memory / mom / NaBloPoMo / other blog / repetition / short story / Story-a-Day-May / writing

Maybe You Can Blame Your Parents

Your parents may bequeath you many things… like brown eyes, a house, a fiery personality, an obsession for antiques.

My parents have not left me any of those particulars.

One thing about writing a separate story every day is that you notice what your repeat. In fact, I think I’m repeating that idea. Was that in an earlier post? Maybe. But this time I want to focus on a particular type of character of issue that keeps appearing in my stories. What you think of someone who kept writing stories about bankers? Or construction workers? Or nuns?

Literature students do this all the time, right? They look at a writer’s collection of works and they notice threads, themes, motifs…like bullfighters and rich men who throw too many parties. Next thing you know, you’ve got a thesis.

I noticed a lot of my stories have prostitutes in them.

Why the blue blazes is that?

Of course, marginal characters, people who live on the edge of society, who skirt danger, who make terrible choices, they are more interesting to write about. Sure. But I don’t write about homeless people much.

Sex sells. There is that. But I’m not sure I’ve ever written anything with a market in mind. And I’m not really writing stories like that even if there are prostitutes in them.

When I was 14, I was traveling alone on a plane for the first time. At the Houston airport my mother decided before sending me on my way to give me advice about how to stay out of harm’s way. Almost 30 years later and I can still remember the chairs we were sitting in when she explained to me how certain types of men and women trap girls into lives of prostitution. I’ll spare you the details. But not only did she give a deep fear of strangers, but she very likely if inadvertently ruined years of dating.

What character keeps appearing in your stories? Why is that do you think?

*

And so I’ve got part of story number 23 posted. Make of it what you will.

5 thoughts on “Maybe You Can Blame Your Parents

  1. It will be interesting to see if there’s an emerging person or theme in my fiction…IF I ever get to WRITE fiction again. 😦

    Prostitutes, eh? I wonder what psychology might say about that. Interesting.

    • But you have written fiction. Can you think of any particular type that has shown up in several different pieces?

      Well, my 5-cent pop psychology theory would guess that having been raised to be obsessively good, there is something intriguing about those who are especially bad. That whole good girl/bad girl thing. Or something.

  2. Good questions… A lot of indecisive characters. Characters who wait for things to happen. Who— Well, actually I’m not sure about that. It may be that I’m aware of such characters — because they need to be changed or eliminated — so they seem to be everywhere.

    I’m very conscious that all the WIP’s main characters are white. I’m leery of trying to cast the story with a ‘Dirty Dozen’ approach: a couple whites, a couple blacks, a Chinese woman, etc. But at the same time part of thinks, Come on — ALL white? Is that realistic?

    Like I said, good questions. Just wish I didn’t have to think about them! 🙂

    • I like to think that some of my characters could be of any group a casting director wanted. Sometimes a character has a definite characteristic—-like blond hair—-but I try to leave a few characters open to whatever the reader might think. This is surely the coward way. But why should any reader assume a character is white if they aren’t told?

      All white would be realistic in some situations, but yes, you don’t want to seem like you’re ticking boxes.

      Often I don’t want to think about my own questions…just so you know.

      • Often I don’t want to think about my own questions.

        Now, that made me laugh.

        I don’t ever explicitly describe any of the characters as white, but X may have a “ruddy tan” and Y, “hair the color of sand.” Pretty unambiguous clues. My internal justification, or maybe rationalization, for this is that most of the characters are WW2-era old guys, in a Philadelphia suburban area not noted for its cosmopolitanism. (A very liberal area, it’s true, but even north of the Mason-Dixon line, even in the late 1980s, people unconsciously “kept to their own kind” unless circumstances arranged things otherwise.) It didn’t HAVE to be set there, except (in my head) it always WAS, and I was darned if I was going to do a forced relocation just to force a re-characterization I wouldn’t be comfortable with.

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