Manufacturing Angst

A lucky few of us rarely experience flat out public rejection or prejudice or even a moment of  feeling uncomfortable in a situation.  This makes for a lovely smooth life, but doesn’t generate much in the way of empathy for others or a direct experiences that will help us create realistic characters in our books.

Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards, Second Sunday Spanish-Style Tapas & Wine PairingSo I was thrilled to experience first hand what it is like to be treated badly for no reason at all.

My husband and I visited  Joseph Phelps Freestone Vineyards in Freestone CA.  We came to wine taste and enjoy their advertised Second Sunday Spanish-Style Tapas & Wine Pairing.

It was a beautiful spring day and we were invited by the tasting room staff person to sit anywhere on the desk we’d like and we would be served our  tasting selections.

We chose a nice table in the sun and settled in. A minute later the wine server approached us and asked us to move.

“We want to keep this table free in case a group of six come.”  She explained, completely confident that her reasoning made sense.

We looked around for the potential group of six, but failed to see any group at all, let alone a covetous group eyeing our spacious table and chair combination.

We declined her invitation to move even though we could tell she really wanted us to follow along with her own order of the universe.  She gave up and served us our wine tasting anyway, not in the right order, but what the heck.

We in turn did not linger on the deck and declined the opportunity to join the wine club or even purchase any wine (the wine is good by the way).  We were not comfortable there and clearly not welcome. It was fascinating.

Women dining alone used to be seated in the back of the restaurant next to the restroom doors; they wrote about it.  African Americans weren’t seated at all; and wrote about it.  Our lives are usually pretty politically correct and polite, so that even a hint of bad treatment is valuable for both immediate experience and for  character development.

If you are treated badly or even indifferently, how did you feel? What rose up?  Can you capture that and escalate it so you can reproduce that angst and sense of unfairness in a fictional work?

Sometimes when our lives are pretty nice, we have to search out situations that give us some depth of feeling – some despair  – a little angst.

I have just the winery for you.


You are welcome to re-post this article in your own blog or  newsletter – please include this entire statement, “Catharine Bramkamp is a Writing Coach and podcaster, find out if you’re ready to go from  Newbie to Known visit or for a complimentary consultation.”

Categories: Newbie Guide Notes | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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