I have a character flaw that blew up like an IED last month. A completely unhealthy reaction that I am, as of yet, unable to beat into submission or transform into something useful.
I over-identify with negative behaviors I witness.
In plain English, when I see behavior I find obnoxious, I start to discover all the ways that I do that exact thing and over compensate in the other direction. When I worked in theatre years ago there were some women who were very blatantly, aggressively sexually provocative in clothing and behavior. My reaction to this was to cover all available skin by wearing a black turtleneck and black pants every day for years. Problem solved: I am not them.
My force field repels “obnoxiously loud” by being silent, diffuses “self-aggrandizement” by deflecting praise and ruthlessly quashes any and all hipster-ish behavior.
This over correction happens almost automatically with certain people that I’ve known for years. Most recently I made the mistake of reading a blog that I found to be almost painfully pretentious and self-involved. And I found the writing to be cringe worthy. I blushed in embarrassment on behalf of the writer. And promptly stopped writing my blog.
The unfortunate part about this is that it wasn’t conscious. I thought I had writers block, or too many jagged thoughts competing in my head, and even while I was feeling bad that I wasn’t writing, I couldn’t figure out why. And then I did.
In the age of participation – when anyone and everyone can self publish, write a blog, have multiple twitter feeds and live their lives in the pseudo public eye of cyber space – I suddenly saw my blog writing as pathetic, self-indulgence. And maybe it is, who knows. But I enjoy writing it.
As a middle aged woman with a boatload of other personal issues, I think I can, in this instance, suck up the fear that I resemble this other writer and continue to write my blog. And, like an alcoholic who first has to admit there is a problem, I’m counting this as “progress”. I will persist in my efforts to overcome the habit of recoiling in horror from blatant self-indulgence and intellectual masturbation. I’ll even work on not blushing on behalf of TV actors wearing costumes in commercials. That one may take a while.
Character flaws in novels can take hundreds of pages to be improved, so by that standard I have at minimum a few more years of blogging to figure myself out.