Monday, May 24, 2010

Ruthless? Or just quirky? You decide...

I'm a nice person. Kindness personified. Really. *blink*

I will do anything for a friend, and do it with a smile on my face, happy to be of assistance in whatever way I can. Need me to pick up your newspaper and mail while you're on vacation? No problem! Stuck at work and can't get your sick kid from school? Just call the principal and tell them to expect me. Want me to check that essay for typos before you hand it over to your freshman composition teacher? Glad to do it.

Let you win at a board game?

Uh...not so much. (Though I will smile as I beat the pants off you.)

I admit it. I may be *cough* very slightly, um, competitive.

Okay, family tells me I'm cut-throat ruthless when it comes to games like Scrabble. Or Monopoly. Or Clue. Or Life. Or... well, you get the idea.

I don't want to be. I want to be nice about it. I want to simply take joy in the camaraderie of the shared experience, to laugh and joke, and occasionally blow an opportunity to score big and not even care. But...

I...just...can' it.

Not even when my kiddos were little, stuck in the endless-games-of-Candyland phase, could I let myself lose. Which just proves it's a sickness, because what parent in her right mind doesn't cheat to lose that game just so it will finally--for the love of all that's holy!--be over? But, noooo. Not me. By golly, when my kids won at Candyland, they knew they had won!

My win-at-any-cost nature used to be a source of great conflict for me. It went against my perception of myself as a warm and giving person. But I've come to terms with it. Now I try to look at it as part of my quirky charm: "Oh, that Linda Grimes! Nicest person you'll ever meet. Uh, don't play games with her."

[All of this is not to say I'm poor loser. I'm not. Because, ultimately, I will not lose. We will play...and play...and play...until I win. But even when I am *cough* temporarily not in the lead during a round of games, I never get nasty. I don't throw game pieces or up-end the board. So, really--nice. I'm a totally nice un-loser.]

Now, the pertinent point to this little ramble (you knew there had to be one somewhere, right?) is, it applies to books, too. Characters do not always see themselves the way other characters--or even readers--see them. The discrepancy can be an excellent source of conflict.

And, in writing, conflict is king. :)

When you think about it, my competitiveness isn't such a bad thing. Because I can use the concept of the dichotomy between how we see ourselves (or would like to see ourselves) and how others see us as, say, a character building-block. Literally. Not my character personally, of course, but the characters in my books.

So, really, being cut-throat ruthless isn't so much a personality flaw as it is a work tool.

(Have I mentioned yet I'm also really good at rationalizing?)


Tammy Gallant said...

Hey, you're teaching the kiddos that they have to work hard to get what they want. It's perfectly acceptable. (Did I mention that I don't like to lose either?)

Linda G. said...

Karla -- You should take it as a compliment when they gang up on you. And a challenge. Then go for the groin!! Rawrr!! ;)

Tammy -- LOL! Hey, you're good at rationalizing, too.

Anne Gallagher said...

Hi Linda, new follower *waves*.

I hear what you're saying about winning. I was never a game player when I was a kid, but when I did, I HAD to win. Needless to say, my brothers refused to play with me. (Which is why I read books.)

Now I have a five year old who wants to play UNO and LadyBug every night after dinner, the 'cut throat bitch' in me has been resurrected. I feel so bad for her -- even though I TRY my hardest to lose, (and I do, I really do) I can't. I'm sort of kind of hoping that she'll hate playing with me and turn to books instead.

Oh and by the way, I read down the blog posts and I wanted to tell you -- Mrs. Fish -- yeah, I am so that kind of mom. My daughter has already dropped the f-bomb (in that totally cute way that no one was aghast -- and I am that old that I can use that word --ie. harken).

Linda G. said...

Hi, Piedmont Writer! Welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere. :) Good plan for encouraging your 5-year-old to read. Plant those seeds early & watch 'em sprout!

Also, I am happy to meet someone else who actually uses the word "harken."

Anonymous said...

*hides* because I'm not competitive at all and I'm feeling quite afraid of all the fiesty comments on here!

Linda G. said...

Xuxan -- Aw, come on...not even a tiny bit? We need to wake up your inner warrior! ;)

Kelly Breakey said...

Hey that's the best kind of friend to have. For example when I call and ask for your help disposing of a body, our only bicker will be, who can dig the fastest. My kind of gal pal.


LOL, this is another reason we should probably never get together for that barbecue and round of after-dinner games. I cheat ruthlessly. Poker, Pictionary, you name it...I've figured out ways to cheat at all of them. Between the two of us, we might end up killing each other with Scrabble tiles.


Linda G. said...

Tawna -- HA! Or bludgeoning each other with the tile racks. ;)

Patty Blount said...

HAHAHA! When we were still dating, I broke up with my husband over a game of Monopoly.

(*notes "Tawna cheats" should we ever meet in person)

Great post. Ah, twitter, how I love you.

Linda G. said...

Thanks, Patty! Yeah, I'm storing that Tawna tidbit in my file, too. ;)