Fear in Writing: How adaptable are you?

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Monday, June 28, 2010

How adaptable are you?

Are you as adaptable as a 2yo?

My husband and I took our kids to the beach over Memorial Day weekend.  My daughter, who is 2, finally got up the courage to go out in the water, but she couldn't do it alone.  So Russ held her hands in his and gently swung her over the waves as thtedey broke.  He was so careful to keep her joints loose and bent, and this worked for about 15 or 20 swings.  But, on the last swing, something went wrong.  We don't know how, but the pressure on her right wrist changed and she screamed out in pain.  I mean screamed.  The wrist immediately swelled up and she refused to use it.
For the next three days, Natalie used only her left arm.  It was amazing.  The change was immediate.  No right arm for anything--holding books, eating, climbing, playing, dressing up...nothing.  She adapted not on quickly, but well.

Could I have done that?  I don't know.  I've certainly had my fair share of injuries, but I usually sulk for a bit and let it rest.  Not Natalie.  In true 2yo form, she didn't let this slow her down.

Not only was I impressed, but it also got me thinking.  We write characters that have to adapt top tough situations in their everyday lives.  If we didn't write them that way, we wouldn't have very interesting books!  We may not literally tie a hand behind their back, but we certainly handicap them.

How are your characters 'handicapped?'  Are they adaptable?  As adaptable as a 2yo?  What about you?

As to the last question, I am having to be very adaptable right now.  As a freelancer, I take many different shifts at the station--one day working 8-5, the next day 2:30 to 11:30pm.  In addition, neither my kids nor I are used to my working three or four days a week.  Everything is adapting!  My sleep schedulel, my doctors' appointments, my day plans...It's tough.  And I've been sulking and feeling sorry for myself for a bit.  But I'm over that now.  Despite disappointment and frustration, I am sucking it up and adapting.  This is it for now, and this, too, shall pass.

Adaptable--the word of the day. : )


  1. Michele - I'm so sorry to hear your daughter was hurt - sca-a-ary. I hope she's better now. As to adaptability? Absolutely it's critical for our characters to adapt to what happens to them. As you say, if life didn't happen to our characters, they wouldn't in the least bit be interesting.

    I'd say my protagonist is adaptable. He's a low-key kind of guy, so he's able to roll with the proverbial punches. I do throw some "curve balls" at him, though. They're usually those little things like being late, tearing something, etc.. I think if I ever have something terrible happen to him, he'll survive. Must think about that - delicious topic!

  2. It takes me a while to adjust. I like my routines.
    A portion of my book focuses on my main character's inability to adapt when a change is foisted upon him.

  3. Michele, I almost cried. Your daughter looks so much like my niece! She's so cute. I'm sorry to hear about her wrist.

    I hope my characters are as adaptable as your daughter.


  4. Margot- I guess I kind of forgot to tell you all she is FINE!! We did take her to the ER, but there was nothing broken...She is so young that she still has very soft bones and lots of space between them. Thanks for asking!

    I love this as a topic, too. And it sounds like you've really thought about it in your writing. Though, it's probably just as interesting to have characters who CAN'T adapt. That makes for great situations, too.

    Alex- My husband is that way. And I was just thinking how that inability to adapt would make for great plot points!

    Clarissa- How funny is that! And thank you, but she's fine now. If only we ALL could be that adaptable!

  5. Some of my characters are more adaptable than others. As for me, I'll usually fight a change in routine, but end up bowing to the inevitable. I'm so glad to hear your daughter is okay!

  6. So glad to hear that your daughter is okay...isn't it wonderful how much we can learn from children? They have so many things to learn and adapt to at that age as their entire worlds open up! I wish I were more like my toddler every day! :-)

  7. I hope I'm more adaptable than The Kiddo was at 2 ... man, she was a schedule baby! Hope things are going better with her ... and with you!

  8. One of my characters is Agrophobic and has learned to cope by slowly working up the courage to get in his car while still in the garage...then driving the car out of the garage into the world. Of course he still can't get out of the car, but he became a taxi driver to help support his family.

  9. I'm pretty flexible for the most part, but no one is as flexible as a 2 year old!

    My male MC is more flexible than my female MC - she doesn't like when things stray too far off her plan. By the end, her pouting/fuming is reduced and she is much more flexible. :)

  10. Elspeth- I think we all buck change a bit, it's giving in gracefully that's important!

    Kristi- Great to hear from you again! And yes, we definitely learn a lot from the wee ones. :)

    Cynthia- My son IS a schedule child. I realized in a big way how much he is today...Noticing fits in response to my recent lack of schedule.

    DL- Wow! You're taking on a real challenge with agorophobia. What an interesting thing to write about.

    Jemi- Interesting you picked the male to be more flexible. I would have thought that impossible till I met another couple who were the exact opposite of my husband and I!

  11. Glad your daughter is okay now. And like you, I may like to think of myself as adaptable, but my normal reaction to something unexpected would be to pretend it did not happen for sometime. And there is no way I can adapt like a 2 year old can- god bless them.