I hate questions like this one, or “what animal would you be?”, “how would your friends describe you?” or worse “what colour would you be?” I’ve been asked all of these questions and I find them impossible to answer. How do I distill down my personality into such simplest terms? How does anyone? We’re complicated, social creatures, not the one-dimensional caricatures of people that pass for characters in soap operas.
I’m currently job hunting and I’ve been asked all those questions at interviews and even when recruiters call me up about a job. Often, though, when recruiters call me they have a tick-list of requirements for the latest job they have to fill and, no matter what my experience and what I can bring to a role, I get rejected because I don’t exactly match all those tick-boxes, even if I have transferable skills that could meet those requirements. Increasingly, I’m getting frustrated and want to scream back at these people, “I can do this bloody job, if only you’d listen to me!”
I was rung up a recruiter this morning about a job but, just because I don’t drive, she rejected me for it, before my CV or details could be sent to the employer. The job was a community nurse role in Central London, I job I am doing at the moment. My frustration goes beyond irony.
This also made me think as a writer. So often, characters in fiction fall into easy categories, “the hero”, “the cheating wife”, “the corrupt journalist”, “the shy virgin”, “”the camp gay man”, “the bitter old lesbian” etc... These characters can be summed up in five words or less. But how real are they?
At the moment, I’m writing a crime story revolving around the friendship of four people. The more I write this story the more complicated the characters get, the more they behaviour “out-of-character”, one of them is actually a murderer and another character is willingly covering up those murders, and the more I get involved with them. I don’t like any of these four people, I think they’re all corrupt and I’d feel very uncomfortable in their presence, but I’m fascinated by them.
I think that sums up my writing, I want to write about people who fascinate me, and those people will always have their complications and contradictions.