Just Sayin’

When the ice maker repair person was leaving my house the other day, he said something that forced me to think about a writing problem I have. I didn’t bring that to his attention. Instead, I just laughed and responded with “You got that right!”

After discussing the repair to be made with this repair person, the gardener had waltzed off to the treadmill. Since I was pan frying dinner (ahead of time–my favorite time to cook), I was left overseeing the repair. My overseeing consisted of complaining to said repair person that the food was falling apart because it didn’t have any gluten in it. Anyway, when he was done, he shook my hand and said THIS.  Watch for my italics.

“Say goodbye to your husband for me. Tell him it was really fun talking to him. You probably hear that a lot. He’s quite a character!”

THAT. He’s quite a character. You probably don’t know he’s a character because I don’t make him much of a character in this blog. Or in my memoir-in-progress. I present him sort of flat and static–not multi-dimensional or dynamic.

Why is that?

Well, I’ll tell you why! It’s because he would overshadow the other characters (including me, of course).

I first realized this when I was around 150,000 words into my memoir (don’t panic–while I have about 400,000 by now, only 80,000 are currently in play). Because my father was quite a character, and my story is about my father and me, the gardener has to be a very two-dimensional confidant. According to yourdictionary.com, a confidant is described this way:



  1. One to whom secrets or private matters are disclosed.
  2. A character in a drama or fiction, such as a trusted friend or servant, who serves as a device for revealing the inner thoughts or intentions of a main character.

And, truly, that is who the gardener actually is in my life, along with a whole lot of other things, such as best friend, lover, and most worthy antagonist. But he’s also a pain in the you-know-what to write about–unless, of course, I were to write about him. Putting him front and center. I am not prepared to do that. The thought of that project is beyond daunting.

In case you’re wondering if I am a wilted violet in the face of all that personality, never fear. The kids are waiting for our family reality TV show because they know it’s coming.

The following song is dedicated to the gardener.



Filed under #AmWriting, #amwriting, #writerlife, #writerslife, Characterization, Inspiration, Memoir, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing Talk

44 responses to “Just Sayin’

  1. Enjoyed your honesty and insights, and how they affect your work.

  2. That’s an excellent point … that you have to downplay your husband’s personality in your memoir otherwise he will overshadow yours and possibly your father’s. I keep my husband as a 2-dimensional character in my blog for his privacy (the same reason as why I only include photos where he is in shadow or his back is to me). It’s so tempting sometimes to share more, but I have to respect his boundaries.

  3. You were courageous to marry him! He would make a great book all by himself!

  4. Your post was a great way to start the week, Luanne. My sons would be very mad at me for including them in any writing I do. You’re lucky that the gardener is ok with being (somewhat) known. My husband passed away a decade ago, so of course I am free to include him in essays or articles, Fun hearing Lloyd Price crooning one of my favorite songs from way back when!

  5. I can identify with this post so much, as I go through the same things. The Captain hears my chapters and comments, corrects, and advises, but he has to stay out of the limelight because that’s where I need him to be and where he wants to be.

  6. OK, where do I start? My ice maker is for the pits–don’t think it’s worth fixing though! My husband is also the one everyone remembers. Like you, he would overshadow me in a flat second. Good connections to characters!

  7. When My Better Half takes a message for me on our phone or meets one of my students for the first time, I am told later, “He’s so nice.” He is! Funny thing is, “they” always say about me, “She’s hilarious; she’ll say anything.” Oh well, we can’t choose our own legacies.

  8. I can fully understand, Luanne. I’m one of those characters that my wife needs to keep in the background. I respect that too.

  9. Yeah, but can his neck turn red like ours?

  10. Fun post, Luanne. I never really thought about this before. I am sure you’re not a “wilted violet” though–and I look forward to the TV show. 😉
    I hope your ice maker was fixed. We don’t have one, but I imagine it’s quite annoying when it’s broken.

  11. Ah ha – you’ve outed him at last! I knew he had to be fun, because you are too! I’m now going to be waiting with bated for your reality show – cats and all. The only one I’ve ever seen tiny bits of (due to having fans in the house at the time) was the drug addled rock star whose name I forget and his family. The dog poo on the floor was an issue for me 🙂 I’m sure you’ll be a step up from that 😀

  12. I personally think you tell enough about the gardener that I feel I know how much you love him, and that’s good for me.

  13. Interesting post, Luanne. I can’t wati to read that memoir.

  14. That’s a good point about what a confidant is/should be in a memoir. The Putterer is also quite a character and will ever overshadow me in most social situations. But I hold my own special candle to the world, and you do, too.

  15. Everyone needs a Good Gardener 🙂

  16. Haha! I kinda get that, cause I experience similar events. I have a big personality. It is tiny next to my husband’s. He has that sturdy, resilient look, plus charisma and charm. People FAWN.
    He brings the people, but I keep them. His words. You have that, too?

  17. I hear ya! As long as you don’t say about your “gardener” – as I once did in a story featuring a stand-in for my ex – that he enters a room, “stealing your air”!

Leave a Reply