Monday, October 13, 2014

Careful or you'll end up in my novel

by Joan

I have many faults. I’m judgmental. I’m forgetful. I often speak with no filters. I’m unreasonably fearful. Of the dark, of tight spaces, of muggers and thugs, of rats and cats and bugs (and bears), of losing someone I love to disease or a horrible accident. But I have good traits, too. I would drop everything for my family or a friend in need, I can take charge in a medical crisis. I work hard and write harder. I love to laugh and I don’t mind laughing at myself. I love books and libraries. I love words. I love my T-shirt that reads: “Careful or you’ll end up in my novel.”

And I have always believed in fairness. In right and wrong. It’s wrong to force a child to blow into a breathalyzer to start a habitual DWI’s car. It’s wrong to steal, whether a package of gum from the pharmacy, incorrect change from a cashier, or a painting from the Louvre. It’s wrong (albeit not illegal) when a spoiled teenager bullies the bookish girl, wrong to spread untruths about another person.

I was a chubby child and often the last chosen on a kickball team, but I don’t recall being bullied, (except that time in college when my brutish floor-mates pennied* me in my dorm room) and to my knowledge, no one lied about my actions. Perhaps I’ve led a blind, sheltered life. I read the news and have seen acquaintances been unfairly treated or erroneously sued. But I have not personally been swindled or harmed by someone else’s intent.

Last year I found myself the victim of a bully. A bully who intentionally lied, who said I stole something, something really large. Something I couldn’t lift with the help of three friends. When I learned of this false claim, I was outraged. As hours passed, I became more incensed. Being the writer I am, I penned a response to this evil person, demanding an apology, providing proof positive of this lie. Being the reasonable, levelheaded guy he is, my husband dissuaded me from sending the letter. He asked me what I hoped to accomplish.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “He should know he’s wrong. He should feel shame for lying about this.”

“But he knows he’s wrong,” my husband said. “He knew it was a lie when he said it. And he will never feel shame. He will shrug and go after someone else. You won’t get a response and I doubt you’ll feel vindicated.”

In books the villains don’t always have scraggly sideburns or dark, brooding eyes. They don’t always have scarred cheeks or food in their teeth. But generally when rereading previous chapters, I can find a comment or gesture that provided a clue to the antagonist’s true nature. Until now I’ve considered myself a good judge of character. But I met this person who made these false claims and believed him to be a kind person. I was completely sideswiped. In all my moments of fear, it never occurred to me to fear another person’s words.

I never sent the letter. But I won’t stop believing in right and wrong. And that T-shirt? He is SO ending up in my novel.

*Penny (as a verb, past tense: pennied) - The act of stuffing pennies into the space between door and jamb along the entire perimeter in order to make escape impossible for the captive. 


  1. Here I didn't think you had any faults at all. I would have voted with you to the send the letter. Glad your hubby had the voice of reason. I learned a new word also.

    Ann Ellison

  2. Ann, those are only the faults I'm willing to admit in public. There are plenty more! Thanks for stopping by!


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