Understanding People

The things I write are often outside my personal experience. It’s by necessity, really. If everything I wrote was something I’d personally gone through and could fully relate to on every level, everything I wrote would be boring. So I make things up. I make people up. I explore the minds of people I am not, people who I might not even easily understand or relate to right away, whose culture, life experiences, and worldview are different from my own. But despite it being fiction I’d like to get it right. Especially because there are so, so many ways to get people wrong.

Enter the internet. The gift and curse of web 2.0 is that everybody is talking about everything all the time. So in addition to reading about writing, I try to read about people. Some recent finds include Redefining Nice: Why “Nice Guys” Finish Last, Intent! It’s Fucking Magic! (both on the really amazing and well-written GenderBitch), and a post I saw over at Comics Alliance about The 99. Sometimes, as with the first two posts, it’s just helpful to hear someone else’s perspective on something I have experienced. With the first two posts I said, yes! That’s it! That’s why I felt like that “nice guy” in college was such a stalker asshole, or that’s why I’m angry when someone says “I didn’t mean it that way” instead of “I’m sorry.” You can know something so viscerally about a type of person or a behavior it’s hard to put into words until someone else gives them to you. Other times, as with The 99 and the surrounding hullabaloo, I can only say I’m ignorant, I don’t know how this person thinks, what she feel, what motivates her. But I want to, so please show me.

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