Why do I have to hate anything?
Hate. It’s an awful word. But a great writing tool. One of my fellow writers, bloggers, friends mentioned this topic on her blog, specifically in the form of a question from another writer, @tkjamesauthor: What is something that your main character hates?
So I’m going to steal, borrow, feed off of, whatever phrase you care to use, and actually write about writing-related stuff today.
The first question I had to answer is, who is my main character? It only took a minute or two for me to decide it’s pretty clearly Sam. Everything revolves around him. Even the backstories of the other characters involve him to some degree or another.
The second question is, what is hate? Extreme or intense dislike for something, according to a quick google search. That seems right. It may seem silly to google a word whose definition we probably all know, but I wanted to be sure I was thinking of this in the right sense.
So I invite myself over to Sam’s home, fully decked out in an astronaut suit, and ask him, “Hey, Sam, what’s something you hate?” My voice sounds tinny through the helmet. The breathing apparatus isn’t the most comfortable, either.
His first response is to invite me in, adjust the air pressure, etc., so I could breathe, and then, after I was comfortable enough to take my helmet off, serve me a cup of coffee.
“What did you want to know?” he asks.
“You’re my main character.” I smile at him as I look around the place. I feel tiny in the huge room. “What’s something you hate?”
“You, for torturing me so much.” He sticks his tongue out at me. “But I forgive you, because you gave me Tristan.” He gestures towards the couch. “Have a seat. I’ll get us a snack.”
“Seriously, Sam. What do you hate?” I call out toward the kitchen. The couch is rather uncomfortable for me. Too soft. I’m sinking into it.
“Nothing. I don’t hate.” He pauses as he enters the room, clearly thinking about it some more. Then he holds a tray of cookies out to me. “Snickerdoodle?”
I can’t say I’m surprised by the initial answer. He is, for lack of a better term, an angel. But these angels aren’t what some people might expect of angels. I take one of the cookies. I think I’ve just died and gone to heaven, but no, I’m just visiting. Besides, it’s not that kind of heaven.
“I’m not fond of parties. I wouldn’t say I hate them, and if I get to cook for them, that’s kind of fun.” He glances at the tray he set on the coffee table. “Speaking of cooking, I’m inconvenienced when I’m looking for a specific ingredient and don’t have it, but I don’t hate that either. Leads to innovation, new recipes.”
“Like jicama for the salsa?” I sip at the cup of coffee he thrust into my hands earlier. Of course it’s still the perfect temperature, and the taste, the richness of it, are better than I’ve ever had.
“Ha, yes, jicama.” He frowns at the memory. “Maybe I hate hate? But then I’d have to hate that I hate hate and that’s just another emotion many of us feel, so why hate it? No, I definitely don’t hate hate itself. Hate is important.”
My brows come together as I let that sink in. It takes a minute for me to unwind it all. Is Sam part Honey? That wasn’t intentional.
“I suppose I could say I hate bigotry, prejudice, things like that. And abuse, neglect, those sorts of things. But I don’t think hate is the right term for what I feel about those either. They make me ill, they worry me, but I feel more sorrow and pain than hate.” Sam peers at me over the coffee table, his steaming cup of perfectly brewed coffee in his hands. He sets it down and pushes the platter of freshly baked snickerdoodles, warm and gooey and not overly sweetened, toward me. “Have another.”
“Thank you.” I set my cup down and help myself to another cookie. “They’re delicious. But you’re dodging. You still haven’t answered the question.”
“Yes. You’ve traveled a long way. I suppose I should try to find something I hate.” Sam bites his lip. “Besides the torture you’ve put me through.”
“Yes, besides that.” I pull out a spiral notebook and a pen. “Speaking of torture … you know I’m not quite done with that yet, right?”
“Yes, I know.” He glances at the cookies. “I’m being far too nice to you, all things considered.”
“I appreciate it.”
“So, hate? It bothers me when someone thinks there’s only one right answer, one right way, one solution. It doesn’t matter if it’s about something seemingly grand or important, like what religion to follow, or something that feels minor, like how to knit. Hate might still be too strong a word for that, but it’s the closest thing I can think of to actually hating something.”
“That works.” I start to jot this information down. Something to have in my back pocket if it should ever come up in a story.
He stops me. “That’s not the answer. If I have to answer this question, if I have to hate anything, I’ll hate the question. Although I’m really just kind of annoyed by it. Why do I have to hate anything?”