I’m a bit bummed as I write this. OK, more than a bit bummed. You see, I had planned this blog entry to be my giddy report of Bouchercon. My very first conference, and I was supposed to be on a great panel—courtroom criminals. Can you imagine anything more fun? Or more up my street?
Then that reality check called life intervened. I’ve had back problems most of my adult life. Who doesn’t? Man (woman) was not meant to walk upright. I’m convinced. A few weeks before Bouchercon, the back problem flared up. To the extent that I was unable to even consider sitting in one spot long enough to fly the first leg of the trip, let alone carry luggage and make a connection for a second period of immobility. So, bye-bye Bouchercon.
Last week and this weekend were shadowed by thoughts of all the fun I was missing, and all the excitement of seeing old and new friends. Did I mention it would have been my first convention? Oh, yeah, it’s in the first paragraph.
Instead of dwelling on the negative, I used other writer’s Bouchercon reports as a research project. One of the problems of attending a first convention – you don’t know what to expect. Pacing can be a problem. And so, I have learned, is bringing the wrong shoes! Then there are all the luncheons, breakfasts, dinners and the awards banquet. What to wear? How to divide your time? So, this year, I attended Bouchercon vicariously. Next year—New Orleans.
What does all of this have to do with writing? Nothing. But it has everything to do with characters and character. Since we’ve been talking about shadows all month I pulled this disappointment out and carefully examined it instead of stuffing it to the back of my thoughts. How could I use this? How would my characters use it? Would it make a difference? Without warning, I had a shouting match developing. My two series characters are very different women. Catherine Swope would welcome not going. Not a disappointment for her. She’d been shunned by neighbors and acquaintances after a justified shooting of a teenager. She’d left her police family after the event. She just flat out doesn’t care to go outside her posse for anything, and is happy for any excuse.
Hayden, she’s another matter altogether. She hates to have her plans disrupted. Her upbringing emphasized always keeping her word, hitting her marks no matter what. She would consider this a huge missed opportunity. She’d deal with it, but she’d dwell on it too. It would color her thoughts and probably send her on solo SCUBA dives on deep wrecks. She would regret not going, and if I know Hayden, would have gone anyway and suffered through the consequences in silence.
Two characters, one disappointment, two very different reactions. Each of the characters is shaped by her unique experiences. The shadow falls much differently on each of them.
What about you? How do you handle disappointment, and why?