A real Character (or in this case, me!)

This week’s post is in response to, and pays homage to a wonderful blog  by fellow writer Isabel Costello http://isabelcostello.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/a-real-character-or-in-this-case-me/  In the post, Isabel makes the point that characters develop as a result of a combination of different factors, and that just like real people, they are influenced by their genes, environment, experiences, friends, personality, likes and dislikes, and so on.  When we learn a little about those influences, we learn more about the person, too. 
Isabel has generously shared a few scraps of information about herself under the title Real Character, and although I have never met her, I now feel I know a lot more about her.  She has indeed “come to life” as  a real person (which of course, she is!) Like most writers, I am exceptionally nosey about, and fascinated by people and their lives, so I thought it would be a great idea to encourage other writers/bloggers to do the same – to write a Real Character piece, then publicise it on Twitter using the hashtag #realcharacter.
As Isabel says, fictional characters have to be that little bit more interesting than real people; but we often take little details from people we’ve met and exaggerate them to flesh out our characters. If lots of writers join in with this project and write their own #realcharacter piece, not only will it make fascinating reading, but we’ll all know each other a little better and we’ll have a marvellous resource – a treasure trove of character details.
To get us started, here’s mine:
I’m short and dark, not particularly overweight but with a tendency to gain weight easily.  In that respect, I take after my mother, whereas my sister is tall and lean like our father.  My great great grandmother was  Spanish, and apparently I look just like her, although the photograph that suggests this is sadly lost.
I was born in London, grew up there and raised my children there.  For years the idea of living in the country horrified me – all that mud!  But as I get older, I find I am more and more drawn to trees, fields, country lanes and fresh air.  We currently live in Sheffield, a 20-minute drive from the beautiful Peak District, and a 20-minute walk from the city centre.  I love Sheffield, except that we’re a  long way from the sea;  I dream of one day living by the sea.
Mainly bad.  I love drinking wine, and really struggle to take the recommended two days off each week. Wine is just so nice.  I adore food and if I didn’t restrain myself, I’d be the size of the house.  I smoked for a long time, but haven’t now for more than ten years, thank goodness. I also like to swear. Not in anger, or for no reason, but I think ‘colourful language’ (as my grandma used to call it) can be very funny and is great when used for adding emphasis. 
I do have a few good habits: I read a great deal and always have a book on the go. I start every morning with two pieces of fruit and I walk the dog every day, rain or shine.
I’m fairly outgoing and friendly. I love people but am equally happy in my own company and sometimes even prefer to spend time alone. Or with the dog – I’m more of a dog person than a cat person, but I like all animals.  I talk to the dog – he thinks I’m wise, witty, and erudite.
I wear a lot of black. I’m too old to be a goth, but would have enjoyed wearing a black tutu and DMs.
Humour and laughter are important to me, and like Isabel, I’m drawn to funny people. I particularly enjoy verbal wit.  My favourite sitcom ever is Frasier, a wonderful mix of wit, farce, and pathos.
I love life and I’m hugely motivated by the quest for self-fulfilment. I like to achieve things and to be striving for something, and as soon as one project is complete I’m looking for a new one. 
My favourite time of year is autumn, and I like dramatic weather, especially heavy rain, thunderstorms and high winds.
Sometimes, I can be a bit of a know-all, and I like to be right – but I’m working on this! 
Skills (or otherwise)
I’m a good cook, and can even make and decorate a wedding cake – I used to do this for a living.  I’m also quite good at home decorating and transforming grotty houses. But I’m a rubbish gardener and can kill plants that are supposed to be un-killable. My attempts at growing vegetables – well, don’t ask!
I’m not musical, although I would dearly love to be.  I always fancied myself as a rock guitarist, but my attempts to learn the guitar all failed dismally.  I am quoted as saying, (with no sense of irony) ‘I’d give my right arm to be able to play the guitar.’  Hmm…
And one more thing…
If you’ve read Isabel’s blogpost, this really is going to appear spooky, but I too believe in love at first  sight.  I met my husband in October 1994, and within a couple of weeks we’d decided to marry.  We initially set the date for21st December – my birthday. But although I’d recently gone through a divorce, I realised I hadn’t actually applied for my Decree Absolute – I was never going to marry again, you see.  We didn’t get around to the wedding until 1997, but have now been together happily for over 17 years.
So, if you’d like to take part, simply write your Real Character piece, post it on your blog and publicise it with the Twitter hashtag #realcharacter. I look forward to reading them!
For more about me and my work, visit www.susanelliotwright.co.uk

4 thoughts on “A real Character (or in this case, me!)

  1. isabelcostello says:

    Susan, thank you so much for those very generous comments about my blogpost. It is very exciting that it led YOU to suggest that other writers do the same and the response has already been amazing – I think we're in for a lot of very interesting contributions.

    I loved your post and I really hope we get to meet in person soon as we share so many likes and tendencies! The bit about dressing in black had me laughing out loud (I Goth-ed up for a party a couple of years ago and was a bit disturbed by how much I liked it!) – but haven't you heard? there's no age limit on tutus and DMs… If you don't believe me, try Camden on a Saturday afternoon!

    I love the way we're all revealing a few little things we wouldn't put on our bio pages and I think that's why everyone's coming across so vividly. Thanks for your enthusiasm and for making this so much fun.

  2. Susan Elliot Wright says:

    Thanks for these kind words, Isabel. But remember, you're the one who started it all! I really hope we get to meet in person, too – we have so much in common (I also have bouts of insomnia and worry a lot about sleep!)

    This really is great fun, isn't it? I absolutely love reading those little extra details. Hope lots more people join in!

  3. Kristin Celms says:

    Hi Susan, I really enjoyed your post, and I have to thank you for helping to get the wonderful #realcharacter idea off the ground. I'm very impressed that you can decorate a cake – would love to be able to do that, as my baking experiences have been decidedly unappetizing looking for the most part. But, I have to ask, do they really tell us to take two days off from drinking wine?! I don't want to curb my daily Prosecco habit!

  4. Susan Elliot Wright says:

    Thanks, Kristin. I'm so glad people are rising to the challenge – the results are fascinating, aren't they?

    And yes, I'm afraid the UK government issues 'safe drinking' guidelines which include the advice to have two alcohol-free days each week. But I'm sure a daily glass or two of Prosecco can't do much harm!

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