About Me

My photo
Jersey Shore, United States
In case any of my friends or family members actually read this Blog, please consider all Names, Characters, Places and Incidents to be the product of the author's imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales are entirely COINCIDENTAL...Muaaah!! Now, really, about me: I bring the crazy wherever I go, so I've been told...I make fun of myself more than anyone else ever could. I hate: the awkward silence in elevators, watches with no numbers, picky eaters, Cancer and legalism. I love: coffee, stalking Hugh Jackman, my Spanx, COMMENTS, sarcasm and writing: Middle Grade, NA, YA Paranormal and Urban Fantasy.

Total Pageviews

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August-Insecure Writers Support Group


This month, my IWSG post may be a bit convoluted. Please hang in there because somewhere along the rocky way, I'll get to a point that's relevant to IWSG. Don't know about the IWSG? Check out the list and learn all about it over at Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog.

When my sister Emily was dying, there was very little she could eat. Even her favorite foods didn't appeal to her  anymore because taking massive amounts of chemo ruined her taste buds and crushed her appetite.  Eating, which used to be such a pleasurable experience for her, had become a daily battle and dreaded chore. One afternoon,  I was at my sister's house and we were wracking our brains, trying to come up with something, anything, she could eat that wouldn't make her sick, when the door bell rang.

I was surprised to see my friend Lisa standing on my sister's porch. But there she was, like Little Red Riding Hood, holding a basket of goodies. She had just baked a whole batch of homemade biscotti and knowing Emmy was struggling to eat, thought maybe she might like to try some. It was such a sweet thing to do and we were so touched by her thoughtfulness. Of course, I invited her in, but she couldn't stay. Lisa had tons of errands to run and things to do but she wished my sister well and left her basket of cookies with us. I immediately made some tea and  put the biscotti (that were still warm) on a plate for my sister.

The fact that Emmy thought they smelled amazing was encouraging and she actually got excited to try one. She took a tiny bite. Then another. And another. Then we waited. She didn't feel sick! Her stomach did not reject it. I know this may sound so trivial but when you haven't held down anything in days, this was a monumental victory.  We couldn't believe it.  Lisa's homemade biscotti were a hit! I couldn't wait to call her and tell her. I also planned on begging her for the recipe so I could immediately try and bake more for my sister to eat.

But when I called Lisa and told her Emmy loved her biscotti and could I please have the recipe, she wouldn't even hear me out. She said she would give me the recipe, but insisted on providing my sister with all the cookies she might ever want or need from here on out. And that's what she did. Lisa went right back in the kitchen and started baking. And like clock work, she would show up and deliver cookies to my sister's house.

On Monday, I found out my sweet friend Lisa, passed away. It came as quite a shock. I was not even aware she was sick. Turns out, she had cancer too. But decided to keep it a secret- I'm not entirely certain why she didn't want anyone to know. Although I can guess. The woman who gave up so much of her time and attention to those who were suffering, didn't feel comfortable allowing anyone the opportunity to return the favor. That's who she was. Someone who was truly more comfortable giving than receiving,  a wonderful example of a what a friend should be, mother to three girls, beloved, supportive wife of  a NYC cop.  And someone I will never forget.

As I sat here, contemplating what I should write about for the IWSG this month, I really struggled. My thoughts kept returning over and over again to Lisa. Her loving kindness, her generosity and her overall quiet, gentle spirit. She was someone that was so good she seemed surreal. She was like a character an agent or your CPs would tell you, "Hmm, she doesn't seem real, give her a few flaws...." Every once in  a while in this life you will encounter a "Lisa". A character with no flaws. One that doesn't fit the mold. Someone who doesn't conform and will stand true to themselves.  What do you do in that circumstance? How do you deal with that? Do you write that character as they are? Or do you change them for the sake of the story and throw in a few flaws to make them seem more believable?

66 comments:

  1. What a touching post. I bet you shed a tear writing it because I'm shedding a tear reading it. It's tricky writing a flawless character because nobody believes it - in the same way that sometimes things happen in life that are so bizarre you just know that if you put it in a book nobody would swallow it! If I knew a Lisa (and I think I may) I'd write her as she is but maybe give her some small insecurities that make her want to give so much to others. Good luck, and sorry for the loss of your sister and your friend x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Linda. I shed plenty of tears, too many to count. But I'd like to think that they some were tears of joy, over the amazing people God can bring into your life when you need them most.

      Delete
  2. I'm so sorry about your friend Lisa! She sounded like an angel.
    Fiction often has little to do with reality. A character like that would need something to make her believable - unfortunately.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Alex- thanks. Yes, fiction has little hold on reality. But I have encountered some real-life stereo-typical people rife with flaws, that make for great characters. Why do the kind, tender-hearted types get left out? I think they should get a chance to be included, and their voice should be heard too.

      Delete
  3. Lisa must have been a saint. I'm sorry you lost a friend.
    I had a favorite aunt Rose. She was a saint to me. But she did have a few flaws.
    She was overweight and a diabetic.
    I remember how she used to bring her own loaf of bread when she visited my mother. I'm not sure what kind of bread it was but her doctor insisted she eat it instead of regular bread. Instead, she ate my mom's regular bread.
    I have a warm smile when I think of her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi John- sorry to hear about your Aunt Rose. I agree that no one is perfect but I do think those good characters with very few flaws should be able to be written as they existed. I'm glad when you think back upon your Aunt, you remember her with a warm smile.

      Thank you so much for your comments!

      Delete
  4. Giving you really big, squishy hugs right now. What a beautiful story. Lisa sounds like she was an exceptional human being. Sorry for you loss. Keep her close to your heart, and she'll be there forever. She'll remind you in small ways, especially when you see biscotti. Try to smile when you see it on the counter or in a coffee shop, and whisper her hello. :)

    In all honesty, a character, such as your lovely Lisa, possibly does have one major flaw. It would be the character's inner conflict. Hiding her secret, even though admirable, is a flaw. Her selflessness probably left her with a need, even if is was only a small need, to be cared for, doted on. Sometimes the fixers or what my girls call "the taker-carer" (and so my therapist tells me) are actually quite damaging to themselves on the inside. We're so busy running around taking care of everyone else, we forget to nurture ourselves. Trust me, I've spent most of my life trying to fix my mother. It's not healthy.

    Know in your heart, Lisa hears your thoughts (at least, I believe she does), and she knows how much she was loved and appreciated.

    Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Candilynn- I appreciate the honesty and candor of your comment. Yes, you could look at Lisa and see someone who was selfless to a fault and that could be considered a detriment instead of a blessing. That could definitely count as a flaw.

      I will never look at another biscotti and not think of Lisa (or my sister)and smile. There are so many little reminders of her that I will never be able to forget. Mostly, the giving, nurturing, up-lifting spirit of the wonderful woman that she was remains with me everyday, which I will always treasure in my heart.

      Delete
  5. This is a beautifully written post, and it sounds like Lisa was a lovely person. It's not very often you find someone like that, with few flaws, but they do exist.
    I think everyone has their flaws, whether they show them or not. To be a believable character, they definitely need at least one major flaw.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh. My. God. What a powerful post. I can't possibly answer that last question, jaybird, because I am in awe of what you're written here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Karen. I don't know if I will ever have a "right" answer to that last question either!

      Delete
  7. So sorry to hear about your sister and friend...my condolences.

    Lisa did, indeed, sound like an angel and I'm sure both she and your sis are eating biscotti and keeping an eye on you from Heaven :)

    As to character flaws, I think flaws make them more interesting but see nothing wrong with having a 'perfect' character show up every once in a while.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mark- thanks. It came as quite a shock to find out that Lisa had passed away. She hid it well from a lot of people. I really had no idea that she was sick. And it's hit me very hard. Not only was she one of the people who always showed up to help when my sister was sick, but she was my age, comes from a big Italian family like mine, has three girls, and was married to a cop. We shared a lot of commonalities. My heart is breaking for her family. This is a hard one to swallow, for me.

      Delete
  8. I think oftentimes the Lord sends us blessings and things we need through other people and Lisa was certainly one of those angel servants for sure. I'm so sorry she passed away but am glad you were able to know her. I think not being able to accept help but willing to give it could be considered a flaw. I know it can be hard to admit a weakness or ask for help, but we need to give others an opportunity to serve as well. My condolences to you and Lisa's family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ilima. Yes, I understand we all suffer from that "mom" syndrome a bit, where we are selfless to a fault. And despite what most people say, sometimes it is truly harder to receive than give. I find it hard to even accept compliments, much less help! Gah. I am so guilty of this. Although Lisa was not the type of person who ever complained or made you feel like she was doing anything other than what she really wanted to do. It made her feel better to serve others, that's for sure.

      Delete
  9. Wow! Lisa sounds like an angel, and I'm so sorry she passed away. Thank you for sharing her beauty with us!
    In fiction, it seems like we expect flaws, but I think that every once in a while, we can break or bend the rules.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey T! I have never been one that's good at following rules. I think if I ever write about her I will have to bend them a bit. :)

      Delete
  10. What an incredible legacy of love.

    No, I think when it comes to characters, there are some we should aspire to emulate, and those are the ones who should be all they can--just like the people in our lives we look up to. Thank you for sharing such a sweet, tender story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Crystal. I appreciate your kind comments so much.

      Delete
  11. I am so very sorry for the loss of your friend. What a pure, beautiful soul Lisa was. Thank you for the amazing post and for a good cry today!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Deb. I'm sorry to make you cry. I've been doing a whole lot of that myself- her loss has hit me pretty hard. Writing about her helps, a bit.

      Delete
  12. This post touched me so much. My father is very close to the end now...weeks, days, we don't know. All the Lisas along the way have made this process bearable for me and my mother. I'm so sorry for both the loss of your sister and your dear friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Johanna! How my heart breaks for you and the position you are in right now. I've been there and being in that powerless position, is so, so hard. I've done a lot of soul searching and tried to figure out which is worse, knowing that the end is near and trying to prepare for it or being shocked by it when it comes as a surprise. I've come to this very scientific conclusion: it freaking sucks either way. There really is no way to prepare for the death of a loved one. The angels that get sent your way during this time, with food, or a hug, offers of support, sometimes just taking the kids for you for a couple of hours, make ALL the difference in the world. I do not know how my family could have made it without their help.

      Delete
  13. How sad and what an amazing person Lisa was. I hope your sister had a peaceful crossing Thanks so much for sharing this story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Gwen. My sister passed away close to four years ago now. It's so strange, sometimes it seems like it was just yesterday and other times, it seems like it's been a lifetime since she's been gone. There are still days that when I wake up, I forget for a second and I pick up the phone to call her, and then the second I do it, I remember and I'm like, "Oh crap."

      Delete
  14. Oh Jaybird, I'm so sorry about your sweet friend Lisa and your sister. I'm sure they are both taking care of you from above.
    Unfortunitely your friends "flaw" could very well be her cancer. If you were to write about her, you could still have her be her sweet, angelic self, and let the cancer drive the the story. It's so horrible to even type this, but it's true. I don't think you have to change her personality or give her flaws, a story about someone living with cancer and their inner turmoil is enough.
    I'm sending you ((hugs)) and strength!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dani- I really can't even express how much I hate the "C" word. It's not even spoken aloud in my home, anymore. I'm starting to think there is seriously something wrong with the state of NJ to have lost SO many friends to this horrifying disease, at such a young age. Don't know if I could ever manage to write about it. It would take A LOT.

      Thank you for your words of support, as I know you have suffered your own tremendous loss of your beloved brother, and you understand where I am coming from. Thanks for sending that hug, I'll gladly take it!

      Delete
  15. I'm so very sorry about your friend. Those people are rare and precious.

    The main character in my first book wasn't completely perfect, but she was the positive force that touched the lives of those around her and made them better people. I think there's room for that in fiction.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YAY@! I'm so happy to hear that someone would like to read about a positive character, that's not entirely messed up and would give off a positive vibe, in fiction. Thanks Diane!

      Delete
  16. I'm sorry to hear of your loss. I hope your sister is doing better. My sister-in-law went through all that.

    Flaws are what I love about characters. I love exploring them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My sister, unfortunately, lost her battle with Cancer. It was painful at the end, and as much as I DID not want to lose her, I knew her passing would bring much needed relief from all the pain she had suffered.

      Delete
  17. Oh gosh... this post has me bawling. No lie. It really hits close to home. One, I lost a family member yesterday and Two, our son had cancer... he went 28 days without eating so I understand this struggle... My heart aches for your sister. And Lisa's story makes the tears spring up all over again! There are angels on this earth. Thanks so much for sharing, Jaybird. Beautiful post. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Morgan- I am so sorry! I did not mean to bring up painful memories for you, and I simply can't imagine what you went through, as a mom, during that time. My heart goes out to you! I hope your life was full of the angels mine was, during that struggle. I don't think we could have made it out the other side without them!

      Delete
  18. My advice - when you meet a Lisa, don't try to change a thing for they are truly the 'Angels Among Us', and boy oh boy do we ever need them.

    This is a touching IWSG post. It gave me a warm fuzzy feeling, considering that in my own post I mention what a hard month August is for me, thinking about people I've lost. BUT, the bottom line is they are not lost, only waiting for us to arrive back home.

    Also, I stumbled upon your comment on AJC, blog - don't you even think about giving up. I will track you down and bring you back if you try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so very sorry August is hard for you- and full of such tremendous loss. The only thing that helps me stumble along, while so many I know have passed on, is the fact that I will, one day, be with them again. Although the pain never quite heals or goes away completely. That is impossible, this side of Heaven, if you ask me but it does kind of recede to a dull ache after time. It doesn't take much, just a little reminder, a painful date, a lost memory that rises to the surface, to rip the scab that has formed on the wounds of loss right back off. And then you have to start healing, all over again. At least, that's how it feels, for me.

      Don't worry- I am not giving up. I am just finding it next to impossible to find the time to fit in writing. My days are filled to the max, and when I do find the time to sit down and write, it's so late I have been falling asleep. (Which is actually a good thing, since I sometimes suffer from bouts of bad insomnia). Once the Fall comes, I am hoping for some time. But I do really appreciate the fact that you would hunt me down and bring me back! Just knowing someone cares enough to do that, for me, is encouraging. So thank you.

      Delete
  19. So Sorry about Lisa. I'm speechless.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Beautiful tribute to your dear friend. I am so sorry.

    ReplyDelete
  21. To have a friend and sister like you in your loved ones life is also a gift. Blesses to you, Dear Heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Huntress- thank you so much for your kind words.

      Delete
  22. I do not think any character could encompass all the riches Lisa shared. God bless her and you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Susan! Thank you. I don't know if I will ever write about her per se, but I definitely wouldn't mind basing a "Lisa-like" character in one of my stories, in the future.

      Delete
  23. Oh Jaybird, I'm so so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a very amazing woman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. R- she was awesome. I am just sorry I didn't get a chance to comfort her, like she did us, when we were going through such a hard time. She will always be in my heart, and I could never forget her kindness.

      Delete
  24. You have been truly lucky to encounter such a generous friend. I hope she was aware of the wonderful impact she had on those she helped. Beautiful post x.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Charmaine- I don't know if she ever will know how much of a difference her showing up that day at my sister's made. In my mind, she was the perfect example of the kind of person I aspire to be.

      Delete
  25. How sad. That loathsome cancer seems to strike the best of us. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth- it's gotten to the point where I do not even allow anyone in my home to utter the "C" word. It's getting a little ridiculous as to how long and how many people I love, I have lost to this horrible disease. It's made such an impact on my kids, my daughter Frankie told me she is going to be a biologist when she grows up, just so she can study the disease and try to find a cure.

      Delete
  26. first off...wow, sorry to hear. second...it all has to be what you feel will be best for the story. if you think the character is flawless and that's what makes it unique then follow your heart on it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much Tammy! I really appreciate that.

      Delete
  27. Wow, then you for sharing this story and letting us meet, just a little bit, the wonderful Lisa. I'm glad you had her in your life and sorry for her passing. God bless.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Robin! I wish I could have written more and done her more justice, but this is about all I can manage today, with my words. I'm really having a hard time, keeping it together.

      Delete
  28. This was a beautiful story. We need more Lisas in this world. And you're right, it's almost sad to write about someone like Lisa and have another person tell you, "This person's too perfect. No one's really like this. It's not believable." There ARE people like that, but we don't write about them enough. We need to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks B. I appreciate that. I realize characters with crazy flaws might be more interesting, but what about the characters that are sweet, kind and generous. Should we ignore that they actually exist, because they come across as boring? That's kind of sick and twisted, if you ask me.

      Delete
  29. Jay- I'm so sorry. And about the writing thing I'll go with an oldie but a goodie- write what you know. And if what you know is a kind, caring, selfless person, then write that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks Melanie. I like that advice. :)

      Delete
  30. That was a really touching post. I'm so sorry you lost a wonderful friend. If you were going to write her as a character, maybe the "flaw" is that she didn't allow you to take care of her, didn't want people to see her as being needy, wanted to be strong when she wasn't? She sounds like a wonderful friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Tonya! Yeah- if that's my worst "flaw" I'd take it. I'd count myself lucky.

      And she was a wonderful person and friend. She will be dearly missed!

      Delete
  31. Found you from justkeepinitreal. This story will stay with me. And when I am feeling insecure or selfish, I will remember your friend Lisa. Thank you for sharing her story.
    Cortne @ Coco in Magnolia

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Cortne!! Welcome to the Bird's Nest- I'm so glad you found me. Thanks so much for your sweet comment. Lisa is a good example of the kind of person, I'd like to be when I grow up. :)

      Delete
  32. If she had flaws, I wish those kinds of flaws on myself daily. I would say to use a character with no flaws in a story setting you have to have them as a side to your MC or MCs, let them teach a lesson. Just my opinion. Thank you for sharing Lisa's story and your sisters. It touched the heart.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome Brandon! Thanks so much for stopping in and commenting. Hope all is well with you and you are feeling better-

      Delete
  33. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of both your sister and your dear friend. I know a Lisa, too.

    As to your questions, since I've always written fiction (and simply borrowed traits from real people) I've never encountered a situation like this, but if I were to write my friend's life story, I probably would portray her just as I perceived her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Lorena- I really appreciate your comments. I think, like you do, I'd like her to be written just as she was and how I knew her to be.

      Delete