On Saturday I went to an aeronautics expo. I heard Buzz, the astronaut who went to the moon with Neil Armstrong, speak. I talked to some crazy smart people, remembered I’ve always wanted to take flight lessons and got the info on it, and got a free squishy plane (highlight!)
I’ll probably never take flight lessons. I desperately want to, and I think it would be sweet to get a private pilot’s license and volunteer for the many charities around, but they cost so much I don’t think I could ever afford it. But I did also remember Saturday that I’m actually super interested in science and math, and I started toying with the idea of going back to school just one or two classes at a time and eventually working my way toward a degree in biochem.
BUT JAMIE, you cry aghast, YOU DO WHATEVER IS HUMANLY POSSIBLE TO AVOID MATH AND SCIENCE DON’T YOU? YOU WANT TO MAKE A LIVING OFF OF WORDS WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE BASICALLY.
This is largely true. I do want to make a living from words and I’ll never not be a writer first above all else. But I like the challenge of science and math. They frustrate me and make me mad and confuse me, but they’re also fascinating because of that difficulty.
This is something we talk a lot about as writers but sometimes forget- people are complicated. They are irrational, puzzling, fans of everything and nothing, disloyal, passionate, and spontaneous. You know what other things I want to do? Community theatre. Give piano lessons. Take violin lessons. Learn to drive a stick. Get a dog. Buy a condo. Start exercising. Get better at cooking.
None of those things really go together, except that I like them and want to try. Your characters should have this quality too- don’t be afraid to mix and match ideas, aspirations, and desires. Nobody is just one thing. Think outside the box, take them down unexpected ways, and don’t say no until you/they have tried something. That right there is the intersection of science and words.