E = MC^Edna

Back in July, IWSG posed this question as fodder for the blog hop:

What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

To my credit, I did actually open a new post. I immediately had answers. I fully intended to write this post.

Then I got caught up in reading some of my old poetry (cringe) and wrote about that instead. Then Camp NaNo started, and the rest of July was dedicated to that.

But I’ve been thinking about this question pretty much constantly since then (even if I, cough cough, perhaps forgot where it came from). Why? Because Edna Fisher, geriatric, knitting enthusiast, Chosen One, is Me As an Old Lady.

She’s cheery.

Determinedly cheery. Annoyingly cheery. Cheerful is Edna’s default state. Well, okay: cheerful and knitting. Mustn’t forget the knitting. Which is actually nothing I know how to do. But by the time I’m 83 – you never know, right?

But I digress. Edna’s annoyingly, determinedly cheerful. And so am I. And even when I’m not, I try to be. And even when I can’t pretend, it usually just takes a “did you try turning it off and back on again” to get me back up to snuff. The sun’ll come out tomorrow, and all that.

Just like a computer. If you can’t reset me with a good sleep, that’s when you know there’s a real problem.

Of course, the problem with being cheery all the time is that you feel like you have to be cheery all the time. Edna feels this even more than I do, because she’s the oldest person in the story – excluding an unnamed nonagenarian back at the nursing home – so not only does she have to be cheery all the time because she’s cheery all the time: she has to be cheery all the time to keep the children’s spirits up.

“The children” here meaning people of any age from infancy to at least their mid-fifties. Because Edna’s 83. And age is all very relative.

She’s a trusting old soul.

One of the most unrealistic things in this book that involves magic, dragons, and flying carpets – or rather the thing I think readers are most likely to find unrealistic – is when Edna just, like, almost instantly forgives Kiernan for betraying her and the rest of Our Heroes. She gets mad for a second. But then, when she sees him again, she goes right back to trusting him.

Which, to be fair, is partly because she needs to: he knows his way around the villain’s Evil Lair ™. There are other arguably logical reasons as well, although I’m not really the most logical person, so maybe don’t take my word for that.

But mostly it’s that Edna’s an insanely trusting person. And so I am. When the betrayal is initially revealed, she rejects it. Like, Kiernan outs himself as the villain’s bestie, and her literal response is to snap, “Nonsense!”

Image of a Tweet by Auld Lang E.M. Anderson (@athrshenanigans). Tweet reads:
character doing a 180: no you don't understand I betrayed you
old lady: hmmm sounds fake
character: no really I was on the bad guy's side the whole time
old lady: nope don't think so
character: ,,,,,,,

I foresee this whole trust thing giving readers a serious problem, like “wtf how can she trust him again ALREADY??? this is UNREALISTIC.” Possibly unless they love Kiernan as much as most of my beta-readers have so far.

But what can I say? Edna trusts people. Possibly a stupid amount that would make it very, very easy to take advantage of her, but whatever. If there’s one thing she absolutely is not, it’s a cynic.

She’s a terrible, terrible liar.

You know what’s really hard about not making a habit of lying? Writing characters into situations where they need to lie. This is a actually trait all my characters share. I don’t like lying, I rarely find it necessary, and when I do I suck at it. So all my characters also suck at it, even the ones who are absolutely fine with lying and could probably be really great liars if only someone else were writing this stupid book.

Luckily, all my characters are also too dense to figure out the others are lying, so it all works out in the end. Sort of.

She’s afraid of losing people.

STORY TIME. When I first moved away from my family, I had panic attacks frequently, generally right before bed (yay!), because I was afraid that my parents and sisters would, like, all die horribly or something while I wasn’t there.

I’ve calmed down since then. I’m a lot less afraid of that than I used to be. It’s more like a past, maybe lurking fear, but no longer something that literally keeps me up at night. Even though the family has since moved and now lives even farther away.

Also, like, let’s face it: me living in a different state doesn’t suddenly make it far more likely that bad shit’s going to happen to the people I love.

The point is, that’s a fear of mine, and one that used to be Super Extra Spicy Horrible. For Edna it’s perhaps less exaggerated but definitely more present – although she also has a lot more reason for it: her son died young. Most of her motivation throughout the story has to do with being afraid of losing people, or with not wanting other people to face the loss she’s faced.

I didn’t mean to write a self-insert, but whoops my hand slipped and here we are. The best I can say is, at least she’s not a Mary Sue. That’s always the argument against self-inserts, right? They let you fantasize about the you you could be. How dare you fantasize about a perfect, kick-ass version of yourself?

Anyway, I guess letting me fantasize about a potential me is what Edna does in a way…but, like, only in that she lets me fantasize about my literal future self: old lady. Except I won’t get my hair permed, because my hair’s already curly on its own, and I’d rather be one of those old ladies with cascades of silvery hair, if at all possible. And I won’t have a dead son, because I won’t have had a son, because I won’t have had kids.

Also, you know, there won’t be any dragons or handkerchief magic or brooding young elves or anything, because, you know, real world.

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11 thoughts on “E = MC^Edna

    1. But if that *is* a lie, you told an excellent lie about not actually being an excellent liar…and if it’s *not* a lie, you’re an excellent liar, so how can I possibly believe you???


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