When I first started to develop the characters of my book, Nightfall, I knew one of the subjects I was going to be exploring was ego, and how ego weaves its ugly opinions into their lives and shape their world. And the startling thing I've found was that part of the development wrote itself. It's character arc, how a person moves from who they are today to who they should be tomorrow.
The story of Scrooge is a great example. When the story begins, Scrooge is greedy, hoarding his riches. Through spiritual enlightenment, namely the three ghosts, Scrooge evolves into a person who is giving and caring.
I was like that. Being Asian, I was raised to save, save, save. Before I was born, my family of six lived in a bedroom-sized apartment. My mother is a huge saver. So I grew up to be very cheap. I had an argument with an ex one time because she asked me to buy her a three-dollar bottle of water at a movie theater. I bought it, but then we fought about it because I was upset at having to spend that much money for water. Safeway sells it for less than a buck. Common!
But I realized that I wasn't poor anymore. I was earning more than enough money to live on, my savings was healthy, and I wasn't living from paycheck to paycheck. But I was still in the mental space of being poor. Luckily for the woman in my life today, I'm not in that head space anymore.
As part of my own growth and the development of my characters, I've really taken the time to observe people and see what I can take away.
Recently, I asked a friend if I can get a ride to a dinner event. I would take Bart, a public transit system, and get off at the 16th Street station that was literally a five minute drive to the restaurant. He wanted me to get off several stations passed that because it was closer to where he lived. So I reiterated that the restaurant was only a five minute drive from the 16th station.
He then went off and said, "You're the one who needs a ride, dude. Not me, dude. Just meet us at Balboa. I don't mean to be rude, dude!"
Hmm. OK. I can understand if I was asking for rides all the time, but we hadn't hung out for a couple months, so I wasn't sure what his problem was.
Dude. Deeeoooood. Dewd. Dood. Diud. Dhude (the H is silent).
Then I remembered an incident. He had liked this girl for a while and was stalking her online. He asked her a question about a conversation she and I had had. We were talking about FOBs (fresh off the boat) and traded our experiences with them. He then asked her if he was a FOB and she said yes. He took offense to that and might have blamed me for that classification. It wasn't I who had turned him down for a date. But I think he started using the word 'dude' a lot to further himself from being a FOBby dude.
A friend and I met up with a girl one Friday evening to watch a group of bands play. I'm not a huge fan of live music, but I went because I'm always trying to break old habits and thinking. The girl was late, Asian time, and the first thing she said was, "San Francisco is so pretentious."
"Why?" I asked.
"Because the restaurants and bars are very douchery." Translation: they charged a lot. "I've been to a lot of them and they're all like that."
"How many restaurants have you been to?" I asked.
There are over 4,000 restaurants in San Francisco. It's a foodie town that houses everything from food trucks to Michelin rated establishments (Translation: hella good grub). So for her to make a determination that the city is douchery from a sample size of thirty restaurants is kinda small, especially when the variability seemed to be non-existent because she's choosing expensive places, obviously.
Thinking that you deserve to eat well versus just eating good food is egotistical. Personally, I love hole-in-the-walls (not glory holes) just as much as Michelin rated restaurants.
I've always hated the corporate world. I work in it because it's just a paycheck to me. And that's what is so soul-sucking, that the work has no meaning to me. Think of a woman having sex for money, so she can eat, shade herself from the rain, feed her children. Sex should be pleasurable, be an intimate communication of the bodies, and/or maybe, depending on who came first, to procreate.
I look at everyone who seems to love the corporate world and ask myself, "Don't you all want more out of life?" I hear from old corporate execs that they should have spent more time with friends and family. And if I were to get laid off, I don't think I'd mind it so much. I would be shocked at first, but then I'd be free of my voluntary jail sentence to my 6X6 cubicle.
All this thinking, of course, is egotistical, like I'm too good for the corporate world. And me spending all this time writing isn't taking away from friends and family, that my writing is more important than the job that affords me to write. Well, yes, to me. But it's still ego. Knowing this truth doesn't change how I feel, but it helps take me off of my high horse. And get on a smaller one. What? It's not a bad joke!