Monday, June 15, 2009


Tom Schreck
Author of the Duffy Series

I got to thinking about how we all align ourselves by groups.

I've been doing a lot of different things with lots of different people. The one consistent thing is people tend to organize themselves by some sort of characteristic or interest. It fascinates me.

Yesterday I was in Manhattan after officiating some boxing at Madison Square Garden. It was the Puerto Rican Parade day and the fights featured fighters from the island.

Almost 18,000 were dressed in red, white and blue and cheering in Spanish. The city was covered in flags from Puerto Rico.

Passionate, demonstrative people.

I hung around with fight people. Folks in the fight game talk a lot about heart, skill, training and who is better than the other. They don't get intellectual much which is kind of nice.

I drove up to Albany and went to the Gay Pride Festival to see some friends. Beautiful day and people who celebrated just being who they are. That probably comes from a history where they faced danger--physical, emotional, occupational and who knows what else--for being who they are. That was fun and people seemed really nice.

Last week and for the last four months I've been going to basset hound rescue events. A group brought together for people who are really into dogs that drool, that have short legs, long ears and don't do anything people tell them to do. They laugh a lot, aren't particularly focused on being neat and organized and they don't seem to take life very seriously. Having a dog with those characteristics that your life revolves around probably does that to you.They also get very sad about dogs dying or, worse yet, being mistreated and they tend to romance things.

Because of the hound events I missed the Lake George Elvis Festival. These folks are into Elvis and Elvis stuff. They include people who make their living impersonating Elvis. These folks really, really enjoyed Elvis Presley and draw meaning from just about everything he did. Some get angry at those who impersonate him while others become huge fans of the people whoa re really good at acting like Elvis.

I'm at the day job now and I've worked with social workers and human service people my whole life. They tend to concern themselves with other people but also they take their own thoughts, issues and life in general very seriously. They tend to talk about feelings more than boxing people.

I've gone to quite a few things for writers in the last few years. Writers seem to take what they do very seriously. They tend to see themselves as unfairly treated and they tend to obsess on whether they are good enough. They are often clever and like to dissect writing. Sometimes they are boring and tedious at the same time.

I teach college at night and I am married to a teacher. Teaching is tough because if you don't feel like it you still have to do what you do in front of people--often immature teens, immature young adults or immature older adults. You can't just sit at your desk and, I don't know, say, write a blog. Teacher's also complain about the end of the year and how it can't come soon enough while the rest of the work force doesn't have an end of the year--it's all the same crap all the time.

I work with fundraisers and they're a different lot. They're bubbly and very much like sales people. They move from job to job often which is kind of weird in that they are supposed to be passionate about what ever cause they're asking you for money for.

There's also Yankee fans, Red Sox fans (who I hate), political people, cops, musicians, computer people and lots of other folks I bump into all the time.

I guess we have to be in groups. I'm not the type of guy who hangs out with lots of friends but over the years I've drifted into being part of all sorts of groups. I like being part of lots of different groups because being in just one gets boring.

People who devote their whole lives to just one affiliation fascinate me. They tend to get a lot done but they're usually rigid and boring.

I don't think people are one thing. I think it is cool when people do lots of stuff and think more than one way. That's why Duffy is both a tough guy fighter and a sensitive social worker. A bar guy, a basset guy and an Elvis guy.

What about the characters you like?


Lisa Bork said...

I like characters who can never escape that one group you're born into--family--and all the quirks we recognize as going along with that. But characters, like people, should have lots of interests, too. Sounds like you and Duffy have plenty to keep you busy.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

It's all about layering, isn't it, Tom? Both in fiction and in life. Layering adds depth, interest and enough quirks to never run out of material.

Great post.

G.M. Malliet said...

What a resource for a writer, to have access like that! I'll bet the dogs are the most fun - that particular breed has such a loving nature. They don't seem to realize they're kinda funny lookin'.