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Along with several other writers, I’ve decided to follow my lovely writer friend Isabel Costello’s example and write a little more about myself, in furtherance of the general discussion about how writers come up with our characters, and what we probably use of our own characters in that process. Once you’ve read my post and Isabel’s, check out Susan Elliot Wright’s and Janet O’Kane’s as well. And now, here goes:

Genes/Inheritance

Instead of growing up knowing my ancestors came over to America on the Mayflower, I always felt like a recent transplant on U.S. soil. My dad was born in Latvia; my mother’s parents grew up in Sweden. My older relatives spoke foreign languages to one another and to me in heavily-accented English. I think that’s why I grew up with a fondness for the “old country,” which meant any country on the other side of the Atlantic. From the time I was little, it was clear to me that we were new Americans: our past belonged to those places across the ocean. I’ve always had the desire to travel, to see other places. Maybe it started way back here, in a childhood spent among people from other countries.

Environment

I’ve always loved big cities. When, as child, my family took car trips across the U.S., I would always beg my parents to drive on the highway that runs right past the cities, rather than the bypasses specifically constructed to keep cars as far away from the cities as possible. Unfortunately, my mom, who doesn’t like big cities, always chose the bypasses. I still love big cities and have lived in a few: New York, Chicago, Minneapolis. But I can also see myself retreating to a smaller locale in the future as well. Somewhere green and quiet and tranquil (Grand Marais, Minnesota perhaps?). Time will tell.

Habits

Though far from antisocial, I love being alone. Give me a good book or a little project I’ve been wanting to dive into, and I will happily dig in without even noticing that I haven’t seen another living being for hours.

I’m also chronic straightener. I live with three people who like to spread their things around, and I follow behind and put those things away. Give me a flat surface with nothing on it and I’m in heaven.

Personality

I’m loyal, dogged, pragmatic, a planner, and a bit of a worrier. Whenever I say I’m optimistic my husband laughs, but I refuse to embrace the label of “pessimist,” preferring instead to think of myself as a person who wants to be prepared for the twists and turns in life. As the years pass, however, I’m realizing that things tend to work out regardless, so I’m not holding as tightly onto the “best laid plans” as I used to do. Oh, and to make my personality even more confusing, I believe in taking chances.

Skills (or otherwise)

I’m an organizer. Give me a pile of stuff and I love sorting it into categorically significant smaller piles. I also love editing other people’s writing, though I don’t get much of a chance to do it.

On the flip side, I’m easily overwhelmed by multiple stimuli, a failing that has become more evident since I had my second child. When two children are trying to talk to me at the same time I suddenly feel as if a thousand emergency vehicles with sirens blaring have just parked next to my ears. Maybe this is what also makes me a less-than-stellar multi-tasker.

And one more. . .

Like Isabel, I do believe in love at first sight. But I don’t believe that there’s only one person out there for someone to fall in love with. There are millions of people in the world after all, and I think we can be attracted to several of them if the time and circumstances are right. My own marriage started off in a very bumpy way; I don’t know how many people anticipated that it would last. And yet, here we both are, almost sixteen years later. And I’m still grateful for my husband every day.

I’d love to hear more about what defines you. And look for #realcharacter on twitter to learn about more writers who are following Isabel’s example.