Thursday, November 5, 2009

Screwing Up

Bastubadaren--Tora-Vega-Holmstrom-1880-1967 In the middle of the chaos that passed for my life last week, I screwed something up royally.

I have the absolute worst memory of anyone I know. I can blame it both on genetics (thanks Daddy) and the writing fog that permeates my brain most of the day.

I write everything down. The dog’s heartworm pill. The items I need at the store. What I like to put in my children’s lunchboxes (I could forget, over the course of a long weekend.) I even make step-by-step reminders for things: RSVP for the birthday party, buy gift, buy card, wrap gift, Mapquest directions….

But last Monday, in the midst of Doctor Mom duty, I didn’t look at my appointment book. See, that’s the inherent problem with lists. You must look at the list to remember what you’re supposed to do.

So I stood my daughter’s teacher up. It was parent conference day and she waited for me to come to the school and talk with her about my child for our 20 minute spot. Yes, she stayed after school was out, when she could have been on her way home or doing other things.

ARGH! It was a horrible screw up and I felt terrible. My daughter’s teacher was very nice, though, and we rescheduled for another day.

Isn’t it awful when we do things like that?

Do our characters do things like that?

I have one series where my protagonist, Myrtle Clover, messes up all the time. She burns dinners, forgets things, creates awkward moments in conversations…the works. My other series has a protagonist, Lulu Taylor, who hasn’t actually made any mistakes. She’s dealt admirably with what she’s confronted with. She makes good decisions. She’s cautious.

I think I’m going to have to mess with Lulu a little bit.

I don’t have to make Lulu as mistake-prone as poor Myrtle, but I’m ready for her to make an error in judgment. Or forget an appointment. She’s definitely wasn’t this perfect person in my first book, but she was very well-behaved. This may change a little in book two.

Do your protagonists make mistakes, either accidentally or by using poor judgment? What’s the right balance for successes and screw-ups, or is there one?