As a novelist, I spend much of my time pondering and answering the question: What is character? I draft portraits of fictional players for my plot lines, and I am consistently reminded that all characters are people—just as all people are characters: Multi-layered. Complex. Unique.
One’s character flourishes from a banquet of personality traits derived from a host of life experiences. From upbringing to natural-born tendencies, everything plays a key role in shaping who we are and who we will become as individuals. From how we think, how we speak to the way in which we respond to confrontation, emergencies and crises, character emerges on a daily basis in our lives. It affects our personal tastes and preferences like the clothes we wear to the foods we eat—or won’t—to what attracts, repels, and inspires us.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”
For me, this message resonates loudly at this current day in age. With the all-consuming pulse of the internet, we are overwhelmed with a endless barrage of distractions and conflicting messages on politics, beauty, status symbols. As this happens, character becomes watered-down, skewed, destroyed, while people portray their lives in their own likeness and not necessarily one based in reality. We are rapidly losing the value of real experience created in a virtual falsehood. Suddenly, making a point and impressing others becomes our overriding concern as opposed to what truly matters: how we treat, respect, and accept one another.
If we made the time to disconnect from the virtual world of mobile phones and social media, perhaps we could utilize the opportunity to take a closer look at our core values and personal opinions without all the noise, traffic, and bloviating of the crowd. By examining qualities such as honesty, integrity, courage we would allow for a chance to shore up our own personal code of ethics. Being strong, secure, and intimately connected to one’s character isn’t only a nice-to-have in this convoluted and precarious world—it is essential to thrive and achieve personal success and fulfillment.
We are all characters living out real lives beyond the scope and convenience of a novel. There is no ease to a grand conclusion to be had courtesy of the author’s pen. The responsibility falls on us. Character is who we are as individuals. It is not how others see us or who we think we are. It is the truth within our hearts. The essence of our spirit. It cannot be denied. It cannot be fabricated. It is, and will always be, what is real.
ABOUT SUZANNE SIMONETTI
Suzanne’s background is in marketing. Fifteen years ago, she vacated her dusty cubicle, bid the corporate world adieu, and embraced her passion for writing fiction. She is currently working on her next novel at her home on the Cape May Harbor shared with her husband and a spirited pod of dolphins. The Butterfly Garden is her first book.
-- Debut novel, The Butterfly Garden, coming soon.
Praise for The Butterfly Garden by Suzanne Simonetti, which bestselling novelist Caroline Leavitt calls “…so so so so great and profound and moving and every other great adjective I can think of.”
The Butterfly Garden -- Plot Summary
In The Butterfly Garden, the lives of three women from vastly different backgrounds intersect in the charming seaside town of Cape May, NJ. The past is revealed, truths are uncovered, and connections are made, bridging the women to one another in staggering ways and changing them forever:
For the last 30 years, Goldie Sparrows has enjoyed a quiet and reasonably successful life as a local potter. As her finances dwindle and health erodes, her dead husband Simon appears in her moments of darkness, haunting her about the secret she is desperate to keep buried.
Jocelyn Anderson is a struggling writer in her late thirties anxious to finish her book as the deadline looms. She stumbles upon a hidden and private journal belonging to her late mother-in-law whom she never met and learns the truth of her husband’s connection to Goldie.
Krystal Axelrod has never been able to rid herself of that young and insecure girl who is now trapped in a full-grown, beautiful woman’s body. With the help of Goldie who sees through the sparkly facade, Krystal uncovers an innate talent and the two enter into an unexpected and life-altering business arrangement.