I live in Florida. Need I say more? While New York City hospitals were being inundated with hundreds of patients a day, Spring Break and Biker Week were in full swing, with college kids and motorcyclists crowding the beaches and bars on both coasts. That’s about as political as I’m going to get because this is not a blog about politics but about writing. You can catch up on the pandemic on whatever news channel fits your partisan leaning. I learned the hard way about showing my hand from a single Facebook post I wrote expressing my concern over a particular incident. I didn’t slam the other side or insist my view was the “truth,” but, none-the-less, received death threats couched in colloquially colorful language, describing the exact method of torture befitting a “biyatch” like me.
I’ve been described as a scrappy kind of gal, but I have to admit this degree of hostility unnerved me. Fortunately, my social savvy teenager showed me how to block the trolls from my page. Now, I only post videos of cute kittens and talking dogs.
I thought about all this as I lay flat on my back in bed worrying whether I was suffering from the flu or Covid-19. Writing a proposal was the last thing on my mind. I just wanted to stop coughing.
I glanced at the pile of comp books on my night stand. Grabbing the one on top, I skimmed its book jacket for a description. Jeez, some nice, light bedside reading, I thought. Here was a story about a girl forced to spend her adolescence covering-up her mother’s extramarital affair. I grabbed the rest of the books, dumped them next to me on the bed, and read their book jackets. Another story of a girl who spends her childhood grappling with a bipolar mother. Another one, who escapes a life with her homeless parents. Two more stories about young women who engage in solo adventures, one along the Pacific Crest Trail, the other sailing up the Atlantic coast. And finally, two dysfunctional families, one which buys a run-down zoo and one which buys a dream in the jungle.
The degree to which the protagonists will rise above and learn from their mistakes, I will discover, will vary. But as I read and judge the characters’ motivations and behaviors, I wonder how different or similar they are to the individuals in my story and what makes my otherwise tragic tale different from all of the above? I make the wry observation to my husband over morning coffee that while characters who possess a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous, ones with a whole lot of ignorance can make you laugh. We certainly had plenty of that.