Comfort Zone? What Comfort Zone?

Day 3: “I’m very inappropriate, which makes me a problem dinner guest, because at some point during the evening someone inevitably says, ‘Okay, heh heh heh, okay, too much information! Heh heh heh. Don’t go there!’ I live there. I bought a house there.” – Margaret Cho, the empress of edginess

I’m betting everyone has a Margaret Cho in their lives. Someone who pushes the boundaries of what’s socially acceptable, the relative that newcomers to the family are warned about, the friend that always has you on edge because you’re never quite sure what the hell is going to come out of his or her mouth this time. The person who looks at your social niceties and your comfort zones and stomps on them with madcap glee.

Sometimes I envy them. Sometimes I want to move right next door to Margaret and let loose with all those thoughts that never, ever make it to the surface. But that ain’t happening, because I like my comfort zones, thank you very much.

And yet, I’m a writer, right? So what’s stopping me from creating a character who can say whatever she wants, who can dance on polite society with nary a fare thee well, who can thumb her nose at those people taking the high road because she’s hitchhiking in the dirt?

Nothing. Except for those darn comfort zones.

I say HA! to them and see ya’ later. That’s what this whole exercise is about. It’s time to stretch and grow. I knew going in that I would eventually want to delve into fiction. Since I was ten I’ve wanted to be a novelist. But I get scared. I’m afraid of the commitment required when I’ve already got more commitments than I can handle. Now I’m beginning to see what that ten-year-old girl saw: by creating a fictional world I’m giving myself freedom. I can live vicariously through my characters. They can do things I’d never do in a hundred years. They can be bold and courageous and daring. They can be downright mean or irresponsible or total cads. They can be outrageously successful and glamorous and gorgeous. Some of them, I’m sure, will do things and have thoughts that will make me want to wash my hands of them.

Some of them will be just like Margaret. Some of them will be just like me. Some of them, I’m willing to bet, will be just like you.

I’m not ready to meet them just yet. But I will be, and when I am, I’ll introduce you. Maybe you’ll even want to invite them in for dinner.

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