More about Etta! A Question on Interviewing Characters

This author has begun to wonder about her character name Etta. I have written seven times about her. When you type “Etta” in the search at the top of the blog you will find all of the posts that have her named mentioned in them. When I began to dig deeper into the personality of my creation these were my thoughts:

*Etta has remained a mystery to us all. She is, to say the least, an unusual personality that seems to fly in the face of convention. I have actually known people like her, although no one I have every known has wandered among the cactus picking up phone books. The fact that I could see some logic in that action makes me somewhat questionable. It just seemed to me that she might be looking for someone else named Chaney. She was lonesome and needed a connection with someone with her name. So at the suggestion of a teacher of writing I am going to see if I can find out more about Etta based on what we have read so far.

First of all I must let you know that Etta was my grandmother on my father’s side. She was a small little Pennsylvania Dutch woman with a big strength and a little streak of mean.

The Etta in our story is a tall, blond beauty that has grown older. She had been married twice. She was married young in life, while she was in college actually, to a young man that was quickly drafted into the service. Since he has been in ROTC he was put into officers training and finished his career as colonel. His last name was Martin. When Etta married him she hyphenated her name and became Etta Elen Almquist-Martin. She remained married to him for several years and actually had a job on the base working for a high ranking official. She lost her job and her husbands career when she complained to the high ranking official about his wife. That was when she became a divorce’. The colonel did not do well after he resigned his commission, fell into the drink and died at a young age. Etta was left with no alimony and only her wits to survive. An ability to write a short story worth reading took care of her daily needs and the attention of a string of men took care of the rest. She did manage, in her later years, to keep her home in the north and keep a condo in the south. Like many older people that live in the northwest, she talked about her “house in the desert” as if it were a gorgeous palatial structure. In the author’s mind she probably had a single wide in a resort in Palm Springs. We did find out that her sister was more successful at finding a man, keeping him alive and living well. When Etta traveled home from the south she would drop hints that had people believing that she had money and lots of influence in the place that she had just left.

We all know that she was looking for permanent man when she came south that winter to visit her sister. That was when she met her second husband and moved to the Waiting Room for Heaven RV Resort and Trailer Park.

Now the question I have wanted to ask Etta was how did she manage to keep up the charade for so long. Why didn’t she just tell the truth? Didn’t she need to talk to someone, share her past, maybe even make a friend based on reality and not on what people surmised about her? I think that if she were a real person she would say no. No, she did not need that kind of familiarity. The aloof nature she projected allowed her to steal people newspaper and read it in the early morning hours with out remorse. She did as she pleased, did not care and used those around her to satisfy her whims. I think that is what she would say.

But I don’t really believe that. Like a porcupine I think our Etta has a soft underside, a side that she kept hidden away. She liked a joke, she adored her husbands or at least that is what she said and I think she might have wanted children. On the other hand she probably would have been either dismissive of them or maybe obsessive about them. Etta could go either way. It might have been better that this fictional character did not give birth.

She did have talents. Like ladies in long ago eras she was well read, could carry on an interesting conversation and made men feel important and needed. She did not mind older men and that was how she managed to get live so well all those years. A widower or a divorced man found that her’s was shoulder that they could cry on. In return they took care of her needs, traveled with her and used her until the new Mrs. So and So came along. Etta did not mind and she always had a new suitor in the wings. She really did not want to marry again, or at least that was what she told them. It might have been that they eventual were just worn out by her.

It was when she lost her confidence and began worry about the future that she began acting peculiar. Was she unstable or did it serve its purpose? You will notice that each time we talk about her dancing in public alone or wandering among the cactus there is someone watching and pointing her in the right direction. Is it possible that she made sure that someone would rescue her from her eccentric nature?

AHHH, dear Etta, what are you all about? When you were young did you dream of a white cottage or an airport filled with interesting people? Were you happiest when you were cooking or when you were dining out? Did you always love beautiful clothes and the idea of a penthouse? Was the music you heard a concerto or was it a waltz? Did you allow both the husbands to court you because they had money and position? You led us to believe that you loved them both…was it a lie? But most of all this author wants to know how many more stories there are…how many more?



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