Sunday, April 3, 2011
Collecting Characters--Plus Contest Winners
Last week the A/C went out. I felt like the wicked witch of the west when she cried, "I'm melting!" So I called the a/c and heating place that has our service contract. They sent out a woman repair person. I'll call her Anita. What a character. She hopped out of her truck, strode up to my porch and said, "Better get those orchids into the shade. They can't take the direct sun." I wanted to say, "I'm not nearly as concerned about the ORCHIDS' well being as I am concerned about MINE!" But I didn't. Anita was probably my age, with sunbrowned skin, and a long braid of graying hair that reached past her belt. She walked like she's just been riding a horse for an hour. Her nails showed crescents of dirt and the sort of stains that come with using your hands for hard work. In short order, Anita told me: * She was from a family of Green Witches * She'd been working at this company 7 years * She was originally from Vermont * She just bought a house north of where I lived, and she'd thought she'd never be able to afford to be a home owner, so this was a big deal. She also decided that: * I needed to learn about my A/C (This necessitated a climb up into my attic.) * I should be able to tell if the "float alarm" was working (Yet another climb.) * That I should have signed the 10-10-10 service contract. (I don't know why. The final bill was $650, and that was WITH a service contract, so I'm not sure why a service contract was helpful.) And...there's more... * You should always carry a drill with the bit up (facing the sky) so you don't lose the bit. * You should stop to smell the roses (and she suggested we walk out to the beach and take a look at the water, which we did). * She'd had it with men. They're no good, and they might be interested in her--a couple were chasing her around--but no WAY. She wasn't falling for THAT again. She did not fix the airconditioner. All in all, I spent two hours with Anita. I watched her, I listened to her, and I asked questions. My sister, Jane, wondered why I put up with the inconvenience. After all, Anita's "lessons" took me away from my writing. I collect characters. Yep, someday Anita will show up in a book. You see, that's the beauty of being a writer. Nothing is ever wasted. Ever. I file it all away, every slight, every emotion, every anecdote, every weirdness that crosses my path. When I need to sprinkle my work with the spice that a new character adds, I'll remember Anita. CONTEST WINNERS: Using a random number generating program, these two commenters from last week are my winners: * Shel * Cyn209 Please send me an email at JoannaSlan@aol.com with your postal addresses so you can be sent your copy of Jon Land's newest book--Strong at the Break.