I have been away from this blog for 12 days, getting some manuscripts together, reading a friend’s manuscript of a novel, other such activities. I can see that it would be better to have something ready to plug in when life gets busy.
So, back to trying to trace my way from birth to find out what makes me tick. When I was in my young teens, I had two revelations about myself, both of which I remember very well, and I am now pondering them. When I was about 12, my best friend left my house, saying she was never coming back again because I was so bossy. We had been playing in the upstairs part of our livery stable which I had turned into the “Hubba Hubba Night Club.” The people who had previously owned the house had left behind several trunks with beautiful old gowns, strange hats, a Gibson girl jacket and high heel shoes, in which Eleanor and I would dress up. In these outfits we would sing and dance. I would make up scenarios which we would act out. I know she had a wonderful time, as did I. After she left that day, I was heartsick. I thought about what she had said. I talked it over with my mother and determined that yes, I was too bossy and I would have to change. This bossiness, this knowing that I am right, has been my ongoing fault, one I still wrestle with all these 60 years later.
Two years later I had another revelation about myself. A girl, a year younger than I, moved to our little village from a southern state. She conceived a crush on the older boy I too had a crush on. He obviously liked her too. She was not only pretty, but she was flirtatious and exotic, and of course had a charming southern accent. I was desperate. I said to her that a certain other boy in town would be a wonderful catch because he was the star of the high school football team. I was sure this would tempt her, and sure enough, it did. She set her sights on him and caught him, leaving poor Rick to grieve (and still not give me the time of day). The revelation to me was how well my strategy worked, how well I understood how to manipulate her. I remember that I found that power scary, but also I was proud that I could figure out how to manipulate her. Later I resolved that I had to use this gift, for that was what I considered it (and still do), for good. I think (maybe I am under a false illusion) that I often know what to say to make someone feel better, to encourage them, and yet still be completely honest. Another aspect of this gift is that people often think I am naive, gullible, because I am quiet abut what they are telling me. Often someone will tell me a story which I realize is untrue, and yet they think I am being hornswoggled. I am pretty sure I know when someone is inadvertently hurting someone else’s feelings, so this gift is also a burden. It is, however, something a writer of fiction needs – to be able to figure out motives and temptations and inner feelings. I think I have passed on this gift to my children.