Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Real Men DO Cry
Last night, as we prepared for dinner, my son decided to sit in the dark by himself. When I went in to ask him to join us, he had tears rolling down his face. Immediately I knew the reason.
"Did you guys break up," I asked in my serious but sympathetic mommy voice.
"I don't want to talk about it. You'll just want to drag it all out. Leave it alone."
So sad, but true. Yes, he's almost 16 & he needs to learn about these things, work them out in his own way. But, I'm his mother; it's my job to drag it out of him. Examine it. And then come up with some witty observation to make him laugh or at least stem the flow. He didn't give me the chance. And that, of course, turned the wheels for this post.
Back off - Characters need love, understanding, sympathy. But, they also need the room to find the answers for themselves. You can lead characters to the water cooler, but you can't make them gossip or drink from those little paper cups. And, male characters sidle, examine, deride & then belly up all on their own.
Real Emotion - I've said it before, crying on the page doesn't translate. But, emotional restraint when the character wants to scream, throw things, blow his/her lava of hurt & anger - that creates palpable connection to the moment. Male characters are no less emotional than their female counterparts; it's how they deal that demonstrates their depth.
To Heal or Not to Heal - Female characters tend to dust off & throw themselves back in. Males, on the other hand, brood, build walls of disenchantment & become endearing, memorable characters. Rhett Butler, Mr. Darcy; these guys stick in the gullet of classic literature. Whether they take the healing plunge is up to them. We can't coddle; they'll not appreciate it.
This morning, a different attitude emerged from my son. He smiled, laughed. But, he dressed all in black. Of course I commented on this current ebony period. He didn't take the bait. I have been exiled to the sidelines of his emotional distress. As both a mother & a writer, it is the best vantage point from which to watch his progress, wait for the open door, then sit back & wait for the next time. Another girl; another opportunity.