Had one of those breakthrough ideas last night. Of all places, at my son’s football game.
I work hard to avoid crowds here around election time because I inevitably have different views, but it’s nearly impossible with kid stuff. I usually sit a little apart and stay out of the conversations, but I was feeling social. It was all pretty decent until politics came up. Hey, I was good. A child’s game isn’t the place for passionate debate–so, I kept the snapper shut and tried not to wince too much.
I was, however, provoked into deep thought by another situation.
One of the 11 or 12 year-old boys made a joke to another about how “sexy” he looked in his knee wrap. I cracked up. The parents around me chuckled, but there was a remark or two made that didn’t sit well in my stomach.
It was probably an ‘in’ joke with the kids but I started imagining how that boy would be treated if that’s how he really felt. The disdain he’d face in a lot of adult expressions every single damn day.
Those sobering thoughts stuck with me even through the noisy cheering part of the night. But they also pulled me into the realm of how it feels to totally immerse yourself into a character. To look at the world through their gaze, to feel their internal reaction to every situation.
I thought about my main character. She’s eighteen and has been fighting for survival most her life. She’s had a lot of responsibility and like me, she’s lived all over the country and learned there are many ways of life, many kinds of people–all just as important as the next. As long as no one is getting hurt, she’s cool with people, doesn’t think she’s better than anyone else.
But, it hit me last night that an eighteen year-old, one who has a passion that burns at a point above liquid nitrogen, might not be able to keep her mouth shut. Sounds like something I should have realized already and on some level, yeah, I had. But this understanding came on like I’d jumped an electric fence.
At eighteen, some kids still fiercely believe the world could become a less judgmental, more accepting place in their lifetime. (Okay, okay, I haven’t lost hope entirely. But I’m learning to accept the best I can and just raise my kids with open minds and hearts.)
I have a teenager. My daughter and her friends are beautifully fearless when they stand up for someone or something. Case in point, my daughter admitting to a liberal point of view on a school bus and having kids hurl hate-filled words into her face. I won’t repeat them here, but they were horrifying. She stood her ground, remained firm and held in her disappointment in people until she got to a safe environment.
But in my story, my main character is far from her home. She has no safe environment.
So, how would she react in a similar situation? Since it’s fiction, and urban fantasy fiction at that, I could just have her pull out a weapon and go to town. But that wouldn’t be her style at all because all that heavy responsibility has made her aware. She’s fiercely protective and compassionate. She’s also already learned that prejudice comes from upbringing and sometimes a cool head and an accepting heart will open eyes faster than kicking ass. So what would she do? Say?
For a few minutes, I fully crawled inside the heart of a person I created. At a football game.
This character can probably teach me a thing or two. I can’t wait to finish her story. Hope I do her justice.
Oh, and for the record… she also knows when it IS time to kick some ass. 😉