Of course, I was amazingly popular in high school. Check that mess - I am still massively popular. (According to my blogpatrol stats, I'm apparently huge in Slovenia.) But whatever. You know all of this.
Besides the smashing good looks, the saint-like altruism, the prophetic wit, and a tendency to always say Awesome things, I do have some faults.
DO NOT BE ALARMED. These faults are mostly minor things like a tendency to lean over to my wife during a movie and say, "You do realize that the husband is the one who killed the girl..." And, of course, a way of finding humor in situations that most people would find inappropriate.
So, my 'faults.'
Seriously, I've had many awkward situations where my sense of humor (and lack of filter) have gotten me in some trouble. For example:
MOM OF STUDENT: Hello, it's nice to meet you. You're the youth director at the church, right?"
ME: Oh, YEAH! (vigorous crotch thrusts)
Or a recent e-mail conversation with a friend:
FRIEND: You're going to write a middle grade book? Awesome!
ME: Well, maybe.
FRIEND: That sounds cool!
ME: NEWBERY, BITCHES!
So maybe you get the point? I'm flawed, even if it is in a very awesome and (at times) amusing way. There are times when I think, Man, I wish I could be like one of those, like, contemplative dudes... spending time in silence and shit... Ultimately, I come back to the conviction that I am who I am. And that makes me special. Feel free to make that 'special' if you so choose...
Anyway, the point is: I'd be pretty boring if I was stuffy, tucked in my shirt and, you know, shaved on a regular basis.
Recently, I read a book - CRACKED UP TO BE by Courtney Summers - and the whole time I thought, "I probably shouldn't like this Parker chick. She's so... mean." And then I started thinking, "Yeah, she's like some of my friends in high school..." And then I started crying. What brought me back from the edge was a blog post (again by Courtney) that made think about characters who are difficult to like, and the importance of taking chances.
You may have read the way I swooned over a book called CATCH. Well, as I was reading CRACKED UP TO BE, I felt that similar flutter of excitement. Know why? Let me give you a quick answer: I love good characters. I love real characters. But for a character to be real, they need to be flawed.
I know, I know. This is like Writing 101 (wait for my next explosion of knowledge when I blog about the importance of showing, not telling...) but I'm not talking about these minor imperfections found in some books. Like, He always burps when he's done drinking Dr. Pepper!!!! No. Real imperfections. Real problems. Personalities that struggle to do the right thing, to move beyond their own issues, self-consciousness - beyond their own ability to feel comfortable. That's what makes a character exciting, I think - when an author takes a chance and writes a character in a way that might make people say, "I don't like this person." That's risk. And I think that's what makes great fiction.
But who knows. Let me remind you that I am the guy who just wrote, NEWBERY, BITCHES! So a grain of salt, all that.