When things get particularly out of control with my life, one of the coping mechanisms I turn to is to picture the events as they are unfolding as if they were a movie. Maybe that's crazy, maybe that's egotistical maybe it's a form of disassociation but it has often helped me to gain perspective. Would I be rooting for my character? Would I like her? Quite often the answer is no.
While that bothers me immensely, it doesn't always result in a change in my behavior. Real life isn't the movies. Traits that come across as plucky, quirky and delightful in the movies are often just plain weird in real life. And NO ONE wants to watch a movie about a mature adult making rational decisions. It's boring. When that character exists, it is presented as a stern and oppressive foil to the free spirits that surround it. The spirits that we root for. We root for the characters who live on the edge. We want them to be enough like us to be recognizable but they need to take chances we can't, won't or shouldn't take.
Lately I am certain that if my life was a movie and you were watching it, you would be rooting for everyone but me. I'm surrounded by people who are living -- or at least pursuing -- the lives they want. They are plucky, quirky and delightful. You would love them. They take risks; I advise caution. They pursue their interests;. I gripe about practical concerns. I resent being cast as the straight-laced repressed middle-aged resentful fat woman. Is it bad form to use two versions of the same word in one sentence? Technically, yes. But it's a word that would be used multiple times in describing my character. I resentfully resent being resented.
So I think -- if I were writing the story, how could I give my character a redemption arc? How could I -- as the playwright -- manipulate things so that this character was able to have her needs met without squelching the enthusiasm of those around her?
I'm just not that talented as a playwright. Clearly this character needs to be less of a bitch if she is to gain public approval. (Or more, if we're going for the anti-hero angle.) But she can't just roll over and play dead -- she can't be given a supporting part in her own story. Nobody likes that character. I certainly don't.
I don't have the answers yet. The rest of this story is unwritten at this point. But isn't that exciting? It could go anywhere! I've cast the role in my head, though. The actress has the convictions of Susan Sarandon with eyes that are determined and maybe more than a little bit crazy. She will defend her children like a mother bear and dance with her friends with wild abandon. She is non-traditional yet classic and not too hard on the eyes. She'll also have a little Sandra Bullock in her -- she's in over her head and frazzled and the worse the situation becomes the more adorable she appears. Obviously there's a little Melissa McCarthy in the mix as well. She's sassy and brassy and cusses fluently, but more importantly she's the current fat girl. And whoever played me would have to be a fat girl. It shouldn't matter, but it does. It puts a different spin on every situation. These are not necessarily my favorite actresses, but I think they would combine well to play the part. Now I just have to feed this gorgeous hybrid some saucy lines and turn things around for her.
Wish me luck.