Writing exercise: Using Your Real-Life Antagonist
Over the past few weeks, I've been dealing with an unhappy person. This person is angry at someone else, and I got caught in the crossfire.
I'm collateral damage.
Everyone who is "in" on the situation has reassured me I'm not at fault. I'm an unlucky casualty in this person's emotional (and, truth be told, childish) war.
I've told myself again and again to shake it off. Move on. Forget about it. It's not me, it's her.
But here's the thing...
It hurts when someone attacks you, even when you know they aren't in their right mind.
Remember Dolores Claiborne?
Because this happened at an organization and just in my personal life, I've had to spend hours and hours discussing what I should do, how we handle her in her "fragile state" without making her fly (even further) off the handle.
A friend gave my favorite suggestion: have her committed.
They voted him down.
Even though part of me feels sorry for her, it doesn't feel fair. I've had to endure unpleasant emails and verbal exchanges from her that were downright mean.
At this point, nothing I say will change anything. She has lumped me in with her bad guys because I happened to walk in the room at the wrong time.
In her eyes, I'm fair game.
She has become my real-life antagonist.
After a few (okay, many) deep breaths, I decided to take the high road, turn the other cheek, and dive headfirst into the role of the strong and unflinching heroine.
I'm not at all dramatic.
Even though I knew this was the best approach, a part of me wanted to fight back, to reach into my own bag of nasty, and give her a taste of her own medicine.
I remained the sane, calm person at the crazy lady tea party.
But I didn't totally let it go. I'm human after all, and I decided to get my own unique version of revenge.
Do you know want to know what I did?
I wrote her into a short story.
I cast her as the antagonist. I exaggerated her features and made her grotesque - the kind of ugly that makes babies (and grown men) cry.
I made sure she received her just deserts (a terrible, gut-wrenching poison that made her bleed from every orifice while simultaneously experiencing diarrhea and severe vomiting - it was awful).
I made her hair fall out and her skin boil. I made her pancreas explode.
I made sure my paper antagonist suffered far more than I would ever wish on my real-life antagonist.
In short, I sent her to Hell.
Some might consider this petty.
But I wrote in the safety and privacy of my own home. I said nothing I'd regret to the actual person. I haven't shown it to anyone else. And it helped me behave better in person than I ever could have otherwise.
In fact, those involved were wowed by how nobly I handled the situation.
(They don't know me like you do, dear reader).
I did feel a (very) small twinge of guilt at my nasty writing streak, but I got over it quickly when I realized how ridiculous my short story is and how it will never make it off the hard drive.
I got over it because after writing the story, I feel better.
It's true. By writing out all of my anger and frustration, I'm able to truly forgive and move on.
Plus, there's a bonus...
Now have lots of raw material I might use in the future.
So really, I should thank my real-life antagonist.
But I won't.
Have you ever written about a real-life antagonist? How did it go? I'd love to hear stories from you!