Clicks are Being Formed

Rare footage of my legs circa 1975.

Rare footage of my legs circa 1975.

Dear Writers,

I have previously confessed that my guilty pleasure is watching The Bachelor on Monday nights. My wicked pleasure has become reading the scathing blogs the next morning. It’s open season, with everyone from highly positioned journalists to past contestants dishing and dissing the hunky hunks and girly girls who gather in exotic shooting locations to find their true love or kickoff a celebrity career or ideally both.

Rewind to last season for a sec, where dark-haired Courtney with legs down to there and then some scored the marriage proposal from Ben the winemaker. En route, Courtney was apt to blurt out some not-so-nice comments about her female rivals, who responded by blurting out some not-so-nice comments back. Not sure if I can point to an epiphany for the season, more like a best photo op, but the denouement was that Courtney and Bensie broke up, blurted out some not-so-nice comments about each other, and Courtney is now blogging about the current season of the show.

Which leads me to her blog from this season’s Episode 2, in which she lets us know that the new gals aren’t exactly besties either—in fact, “clicks are being formed.”

I can’t argue with that truth, and I also like her spelling and plan to use it hereafter.

Which takes me back to junior high. There were clicks there too, and I was never part of them. In fact, one of the cute cheerleaders had a party and invited every girl in the class but me. Poor me. But don’t feel bad, because my life got a whole lot better and I eventually made friends and got less awkward. Plus I could spell, which apparently precluded a stint on The Bachelor but does allow me to make a nice living even though my legs are kinda, well, short.

Here’s the thing: I sort of love Courtney. And, she’s a great example of what you can do with a character. Before you get all what the hell can a fashion model who also does TV shows and blogs even if she doesn’t own a copy of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary have to do with creating characters of depth on the page?, hear me out.

Last season, Courtney was in the thick of it—locked away in a mansion or whatever glitzy hotel with a gaggle of other girls who didn’t like her. This season, she’s watching a similar scenario unfold and commenting about it with the perspective of having been, as she calls it, “the villian.” That is to say, she was on the inside looking out, in a lonely yet coveted position, and now she’s on the outside looking in, and she can’t be lonely any longer because she has a ton of fans including me, and her role is still coveted.

If you take your character from either of those positions to the other, from being the outsider to in the thick of it or vice versa, let them trade places with themself so to speak, I think it will make for a very interesting character arc. I think sometimes a story can stop just short of where we see Courtney now. That is, the character might be cast in the role of beautiful villain, yet win the hand of the handsome dude, ride off merrily into the sunset, fall off the horse and land on her bottom. The End.

But some stories take it a lot farther and show us the aftermath. In Courtney’s case, she and handsome dude broke up, she dated the race car driver guy from another season of the show, they broke up, and then she got this blogging gig. It’s her blogging gig that resonates for me story-wise, that part where the character comes back after the fact and talks to us some more and we get to see who they are and what they think not only after the show’s over but after the next one has started. What stories do that and pull it off?

Maybe a lot of them do and call it an Afterword, but that can frequently be this quick little thing. Some might come back in a sequel, although in those cases the character frequently retains a similar sensibility—Sherlock Holmes pretty much stays who he is and so does Carrie Bradshaw. I love those long, winding, Dickens-like stories that let us follow a character around forever. Chuck is long gone and now do we retain enough of that form? I don’t think so and I miss it.

Courtney and I have just a ton in common, not being a part of that click that was formed back then but now getting to talk about it all we want. For example, I can say, Hey, Kim Lawson, I never really wanted to go to your stupid party. Well, maybe I did, but now I found a way better click with my writing mates. Isn’t that what writers do? We write about the clicks we never managed to join or the ones we tried to start but no one signed up? That is, while we can assign a lot of literary theory, some great stories are just about clicks being formed that the character wants to get in or out of.

So welcome to the creative click, Courtney. You just go on and click away. And never mind about that dictionary. All of my students know I lied in an earlier paragraph and that I’m a terrible speller too and have to look stuff up or ask someone how to spell stuff all the time. You go, girl!

Sweet stuff:

  • Join me at Village Books in Fairhaven for the next open mic on Monday, January 28, 7 p.m. in the Readings Gallery. The optional theme is New Year musings.
  • Matthew Brouwer’s next workshop on Writing Poetry that has Power will be Saturday, January 24, 1–4 p.m. at the Ground Floor on State Street in Bellingham. He’s got a series of interesting workshops planned, so check out www.matthewbrouwerpoet.com for more details!
  • Western Washington University will host its 10th Annual Writing Children’s Literature Conference on Saturday, February 23. www.wwuclc.com
  • Whidbey Island Writers Association has its next lockdown writers retreat scheduled for April 19-21, featuring William Dietrich, Andrea Hurst, and Kelli Russell Agodon. http://www.nila.edu/
  • C.J. Prince is hosting a new writing practice, Natalie Goldberg style, in Sudden Valley. That sounds like a surefire click to me. Maybe you should check it out. There was some confusion about the date, so C.J. will you please reply to this post with dates and details?
  • Congrats to Squaw Valley Writers alum Robert Steven Williams for publishing his novel My Year as a Clown. I had the pleasure of reading it while in development, and I’m laughing right now thinking about certain scenes and how the main character doesn’t get to be part of some clicks in a very funny fashion. http://www.robertstevenwilliams.com/
  • Many props to my former student and now friend and peer Selah Tay Song for publishing Dreams of a Vast Blue Cavern. You can get Selah’s book on Amazon and also be sure to check out her amazing website complete with audio stories. http://www.selahjtaysong.com/
  • As always, send me your writing-related event notices so I can help spread the word! Pretty please, tell someone else about this blog.
  • Read more from me at Dogpatch Writers Collective. You’ll also find Jilanne Hoffman’s Composting 101 post there, which is freakin’ hilarious.

xo Laurel Leigh

P.S.: Here’s Courtney’s latest blog: http://thebachelor.warnerbros.com/news/courtney-robertsons-bachelor-blog-episode-2/

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4 thoughts on “Clicks are Being Formed

    • Thanks, Amy! My older sister sent me that pic–a Polaroid she found in a box and scanned. My mom used to save my old leotards and I think that one eventually got turned into a dish rag. I already thought we were soul sisters, but if you have deja vu and the leotard to go with it, that’s even more proof!

  1. It does recall that Victor/Victoria line: I’m a woman pretending to be a man pretending to be a woman. Yes, I think Wreck-It Ralph deserves mega fan mail and so does Julie Andrews for her great kids’ books! Thanks for the good words, Jill!

  2. And here all this time I thought you could spell! So you’re a writer, writing about an actor who can’t spell who’s now writing about acting, a writer who’s an actor, acting like she can’t spell…Did I get that right? I love your posts, Laurel. I was thinking about writing about Wreck-It Ralph and who he’s writing/talking about now that the movie is over. You’ve inspired me. Thanks!

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