There is a skittering in my pulse, its source the mental gnaw that my editor must think me quite odd. She, however, is a professional. If my two-word pitch, “Tammy Unplugged,” for the April blog caused her concern, she said nothing. Beyond my formidable accumulation of verbs and nouns, she knows my heart. And perhaps, after this series, you will as well.
While many writers seek solace in the development of a “persona,” I am of the “runs naked through the sprinkler” set. Few redactions and minimal edits. I am who I am. I have committed myself to paper, and I draw from both the heady ephemera and the toxic abyss of my personality when creating characters. I write “who” I know. If there isn’t some real element of my characters to me, how can I as writer expect my reader to believe any element of my story? This is my method.
In this final installments, you will meet the last of my foundational personalities, the bits and pieces of me that make me whole and enable me to draw from them when building characters who will carry a bit of me through the stories I write. I hope you have enjoyed, and are inspired to “unplug” those elemental people running through the sprinkler in your mind.
Week Four: The Ticking Clock
The go-between - Tammy - the mediator, the janitor, forever apologetic. I am the one who endured fifteen years in a denominational church because I wanted to be a good wife and mother and I never developed a relationship with my Creator. With all the stuff going off in my head, why add another opinion to the mix? I am the one who keeps it all together, keeps it safe, and keeps it under control. Lately, I have wanted to take Bug in my arms and just love the little girl, but if I bring her broken spirit out into the light, the Banshee will be so enraged at the damage done that she'd rip us all new sphincters. And really, Lyric doesn't need any more fuel for morbid, soul-sucking emoetry. Personally, I'm pretty tired of Lyric and Mara and want to flush them from my memory altogether. I'm not even sure that Myth and TL have a purpose at this point. They are attracted to distractions. I am the one who gives up the PC so the kids can play. I am the scheduler, the one who sacrifices with the promise that "someday we can" even though I don't believe it myself. I would never buck the system. I would never step out the box, or color out of the line. I know my limits—intimately. And because it's inappropriate to give voice to anyone else, I am worn out, run down, and unhappy. I really don't want the brain anymore, but I fear the options. The older I get, the harder it is to keep Grendel's mom and the Banshee in line. They feed off the chaos in my life and grow stronger while the rest of us fade out and I pretty much find them intolerable. I'm not sure TL is truly capable over time of becoming successful, and I deeply miss Myth.
The Crone - While basically harmless to the outside world, the crone terrifies me more than a roomful of banshees and witches. She is fast becoming my grey descent to mediocrity, to decay, and to oblivion. She rose to control in 2016 on the litany “your life is over half over and you’re still unhappy. Even God is saying, I can’t win with this one.” In a lifetime of chasing words, the ones that found my heart and are slowly killing it are on perpetual loop threaded through the aching fingers of the crone. I suppose I blamed the banshee and Grendel’s mom for moments orchestrated in my mind by the crone. While I waited for an opportunity, sacrificed time and dreams on the altar of others’ urgencies, the crone creeped into my bones. She reminds me of things left behind. She is the personified ache of friends who’ve passed away. Of things precious given up for an existence that is often intolerable. She whispers that I will bear no more children. She counts the chin whiskers, the warts, and the increasing numbers on the scale. But what she does to the soul is the crippling blow. She whispers that my future holds no dreams. That I am bound to hard work without reward, that any career pinnacle is now behind me and it’s too late to dream. She’s made an odd sort of truce with both Myth and the Witch—not because she believes we will be successful but because she believes poetry and the formidable day job are inevitable and someone has to accommodate the hour-long commute and working on weekends for wages lower than we made a decade hence. Beyond the cosmetic, the striking difference the crone brings is a weary acceptance of the mundane. The crone is not artistic or creative, but she does let Bug play Pokemon Go. Unlike most of us, the crone bears a sad, wistful patience with fussy babies, cranky coworkers, and cats. Perhaps her purpose among us will transition from harbinger to light bearer, from harsh finality to quiet grace. Or maybe she’ll tear it all down and let Bug run naked through the sprinkler. Half over is only half the story.
I hope you have enjoyed this—if only as entertainment. It is my hope that you allow yourself to explore those within your own heart and mind and commit them to paper, perhaps even with a picture.
I am an opportunist, and have done this not only as a writer to glean characters from the information, but also as family historian, child, parent, and now grandparent. Whether I land on the best seller list or not, writing is a part of my identity as are all the personalities this series has described.