I Hate You, Dad!

I'd just watched a great movie called Man From Earth.  The premise is awesome, and without it I wouldn't have watched it.  But during a good-gye party, friends learn that the honorary guest is a caveman who has lived for 14,000 years.  That's right.  A bonafied caveman, cro magnon, to be exact.

It was written by famed science fantasy writer, Jerome Bixby.

It's a fantastic premise because what the caveman reveals is just earth shattering.  I'd suggest watching.

One of the things John, the caveman, reveals is that he was a well known religious figure.  Everyone in the party at this point doesn't really know whether to believe his story so far, but to claim to be this certain figure seems heinous.  Until John explains how this religious figure got his mythical status.  How history can apply layers of mythicism on an individual.

And that got me thinking.

I'd had the pleasure of pitching to Donald Maass, the famed New York agent who wrote How to Write the Breakout Novel.  This was my first book on writing.  I'd attended his one hour lecture at the San Francisco Writer's Conference.  His whole thing is to write with emotional depth and make your story big.  Big with emotions.  (Wow.  I'm using a lot of fragments today.)

Some examples are betrayal, retribution, and the all time favorite "I hate you, dad!"

In my book, my hero has severe issues with his father.  His father left him without saying good-bye after being convicted of a murder.  With this, a lot of people assumed that the father was guilty, despite his fervent attempt to prove his innocence.  Kinda like OJ hurling down the freeway at 152.5 MPH.

My hero is left with the question of why.  Was his father guilty?  Did he not love my hero enough?  What did my hero do to make his father leave?  As the days pass, my hero is forced to answer these questions and begins to layer greatness upon his estranged father.

Sorta like someone breaking up with you, and you can't stop thinking about all the good times you both had, even though there may have been a lot of bad.

Maass said these past parental issues tend to manifest themselves in other parts of your life.  For example, if your father was a perfectionist, forced and punished you to be a perfectionist, then you grow up and torture yourself to be a perfectionist at work.  Your relationships go bad because you're trying to find the perfect man or woman.  You can't seem to settle on any home that you visit, driving your real estate agent crazy.  You go into deep debt, buying every electronic device because they keep getting better.  You get ten plastic surgeries trying to fit the perfect mold.  All because your father prodded you to be perfect.  Then, all of a sudden, you yell at a picture of your father, "I hate you, dad!"  But what you actually hate is the person you've turned into, and, hopefully, as up-lifting stories go, you realize that his world of perfection doesn't have to be yours.  And you begin to live a life that's true to you.

The point is, when writing stories, sometimes childhood issues bubble up without the character knowing it.  He may never know it.  She may scream at a jar of honey and remember when her mother yelled at her for spilling honey on their new carpet.  It's a great way of deepening a character.

Do You Feel Guilty Feeling Attractive?

In my side story, the character, Noshee, was a cheater.  It's part of his backstory.  If you'd like to read the side stories check them out here. I'd talked to a friend about attraction.  In the context of marriage.  He's been married for several years and loves his wife dearly.

One day he stood in a never ending line at Starbucks, totally submerged in his crackberry.  A woman bumped him from behind by accident and apologized.  My friend turned around, smiled, and said, "No problem."

Her red lips widened, revealing her white teeth.  "Aren't those addicting?"

"Ugh.  I can't help but check my emails everytime my phone vibrates."

The blond-haired lady took out her iPhone from her purse and waved it.  "Tell me about it."

After receiving their coffees, they stood off to the side.  What happened next was a fury of non-sexual flirting.  My friend found himself cracking jokes.  She laughed and crinkled her nose.  He  listened to her personal stories of work life, egged her on with penetrating questions.   She noticeably became intrigued by him, not taking any notice of the morning sun glinting off his wedding band.

Interesting.

It wasn't until he mentioned his wife did she withdraw and exclaimed she'd better not be late today.

Unlike my character, my friend didn't follow through with his instincts.  But was he in the wrong for feeling attracted to the nice blond lady?  Most people would judge him in the wrong.  And for those who would dare judge him, he felt guilty.

Everybody gets up in morning, brushes their teeth, washes their face, fix their hair, applies makeup if you're a woman, or a guy if you're like that, puts on nice duds, maybe spritz some eau de toilette or parfum, and leave the house looking like a million bucks.  Lo and behold even married people do this.

Why?

"I wanna look nice."

OK.  Why?

To look attractive.  What my friend did, by following his instincts to be attractive, to lure the woman in, is his way.  It's always been  his way.  It's how men through out our animal history have been.  We want to attract women.

Are women guilty of this?  Hell yeah!  Married or not, women love it when guys find them hot.  It makes them feel good.  It can help boost their confidence.  And I'd suggest they play along.  Have fun.  That's why they have girls' night out.  They want to be checked out in a protective environment among other hens, while the cocks, that's roosters for you gutter-minded, prance around in heat.  Stalkers please keep out.

I told my friend not to feel guilty.  Guilt, something I explore at length in my book, is a victim emotion.  That is left for another post.  His instinct of  feeling attractive, to want to talk to other women, is an ingrained behavior.  That's how his greatest of grandfathers, the Geico caveman, spread his genes.  The human side, the conscious side of our minds, shouldn't follow through with an affair, like Noshee did.

In the end, my friend went home with a surprise bouquet of bright red tulips.  He realized through his guilt that he loved his wife, appreciated the home they've built and got it on.  Actually, I don't know if he got it on.