Monday, February 7, 2011

Tough Girl

This was definitely not the post I intended to write today. But I'm sitting here, looking out my window at the elk. The herd is huge this year, I think word's gotten around that there's free food. My grandpa started feeding them about ten years ago in an effort to keep them from raiding his haystacks and stealing from the cattle. They're a bit of a nuisance this year; they trampled the "elk proof" fences around the haystacks and have taken up residence with the cattle. They're ravenous eaters.




Anyway, the elk were leaving the feed yard to spend the rest of the day in the trees. As I watched them pass by my house in a single-file line I noticed one cow had a horrible limp. Her entire body rocked and lurched from the effort of walking and it broke my heart. I know what will happen to her. Nature isn't kind to the weak. The herd will take notice and shun her. Soon they'll push her away from food, drive her from the group. One weak member will weaken the entire herd. Survival of the fittest and all that. She'll die. It's an inevitability. And being the highly sensitive person I am, it made my stomach lurch with worry. I wish I could unsee it. I wish I didn't know this poor elk was hurt. I can't help her. There's nothing I can do. And I hate to feel helpless.

For some reason, it made me think of my MC. I once told my agent that Darian was the woman I wished I could be. Darian is tough. She's unapologetic. She's realistic. She doesn't let anyone push her around. But more than that, she's strong. It's not that she's uncaring, but she knows how to stand up to nagging things like worry and overwhelming emotion. If she were sitting here right now, she'd feel sorry for that poor elk. But she wouldn't lose any sleep over it. She'd rationalize that this is how nature works. She might even put the creature out of it's misery. I can see her doing that. Because she does what has to be done and she never whines about it.

The beauty of writing, though, is that for a few hours a day, I get to be Darian. I have the privilege of living in her skin, being that tough girl, making the tough decisions without shedding a tear. I get to be the woman I wish I could be. Her adventures are my adventures, her strength is my strength. And since she's a part of me--a character forged with a lot of my personality traits--at the end of the day, maybe I'm a little more like her than I think.

8 comments:

WindyA said...

I love this post! Nature isn't kind to the weak, and it's a sad fact, but it is the order of things.

That being said, I love that your MC is a strong woman in every sense of the word. But that's exactly what we, as writers, are able to give our readers: a chance to be someone else. And maybe even discover some of ourselves inside the pages of our books.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Last paragraph says it all!

Jennifer Hillier said...

Darian sounds amazing! How wonderful that you've written a character you wish you could be like. One of these days I need to do that, instead of writing characters who are just totally messed up all the time. :)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love being my character for a few hours a day. She's way wittier than me. ;)

lbdiamond said...

LOVE this post!!! So. True.

ali said...

I love that ~ that you're a lot more like your tough, strong MC than you thought. Great post!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

How amazing to have that train of elk pass your window. I know they can be a nuisance, but, still, wow.

Even if we give our characters what we only dream we could be, it counts. After all, we created them!

Abby Annis said...

I love this! It's amazing what we can learn about ourselves from our characters. Great post! :)