Monday, May 09, 2011


My daughter, who is a junior in high school, is at that wonderful phase of life when she’s deciding what she wants to do with her future. With creativity and intelligence, a near-perfect GPA, and an abundance of ambition, she can do virtually anything she wants to - except become a doctor or test pilot. She’s got too weak a stomach for either.

Should she attend an art school? Maybe, but there would be no fun football games to attend. A large public university? Such a place would enable an easy change of majors should her career aspirations shift, but one can sometimes feel lost at a big school. Should she remain in the state, where tuition will be cheaper and she can come home frequently for free laundry service? Or should she spread her wings (and stretch her parents’ finances) by looking into out-of-state schools?

As I was talking to her about her options, I realized that what’s actually occurring here is far more than a college and career choice. She’s figuring out who it is she wants to become, where she fits best into this crazy world we live in.

She’s engaging in character development.

Her personal process is very similar to the character development process a novelist goes through for the fictional people who star in their stories. Character development is one of the things I love about writing, and my stories are always character driven. I start with a character – such as Tara Holloway, the butt-kicking Treasury agent who stars in my “Death and Taxes” series (pictured above) – and then figure out more about who this character is, where she’s come from and where she’s going, and what can happen to her that will teach her things not only about the world around her, but also about herself. Though my books are light and entertaining, I’d like to think they bring some larger issues to the table, though in a subtle way.

Like characters in a story, all of us are constantly finding our place in this world, sometimes readjusting how we see ourselves or where we fit in. Our own personal character development never stops. None of us are the same person today that we were ten or twenty years ago, and we’ll be someone different ten or twenty years from now. We aren’t necessarily striving to achieve some type of “ideal” version of ourselves, because what we might consider ideal can and will change. Rather, we’re in a constant process of self-development and self-discovery. And isn’t it fun?

Here are some things I’ve learned about myself and the world in the last few years:

1) I’m no longer the diehard social butterfly I once was. Although I enjoy an occasional get together, I enjoy being alone sometimes, too. And that’s perfectly okay!

2) Although I exercise somewhat regularly for health reasons, I’m simply not willing to do what it takes to have a perfect beach body. There are other things that mean much more to me than abs of steel.

3) I admire people who have convictions and stick to them, yet I have a low tolerance for intolerant people. As a result, I will sometimes feel conflicted about others who seem narrow minded. But I’ve also learned it’s okay for me to hold conflicting opinions about others. These feelings don't necessarily have to be resolved.

What are some things you’ve discovered about yourself?


Robin Kaye said...

Good morning, Diane! What a wonderful blog. I'm going through the same thing with my son that you are with your daughter--minus the almost perfect GPA. On the other hand, he is going for his Eagle in the Boy Scouts, which will both look good on his college apps and give him about $50,000 in scholarships that he'd never get for academics. It's amazing to watch kids mature and change so much in so little time, and it is kind of like a character in one of my books.

As for me, I've discovered that although a social butterfly at Nationals or conferences, I'm also antisocial. I'd love nothing better than to live in a cabin in the middle of the wilderness. I love to be around people, but like my DH pointed out to me yesterday, only on my terms. I don't like neighbors, people stopping by, heck, I even get tired of people calling. If I want to be around people, I'll go to my starbucks or call a friend, but other than that, I'd rather have uninterrupted time in the worlds of which I write. Now I'm sitting at my favorite Starbucks getting ready to spend some time with my characters in my alternate reality. Another perfect day in my opinion--well, except for having only four hours sleep last night.

Diane Kelly said...

You and I think very much alike! I even find myself on every once in a while scoping out lake properties with the hopes that one day I can buy one and escape to it. : )

And, wow! An Eagle Scout! What an accomplishment!!! You must be very proud! That fifty grand sounds pretty darn good, too!