“Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” ~ Swedish Proverb

I’m a worrier. I guess I always have been but I don’t think I realized it until a few years ago.

On a visit to Wisconsin, my siblings and I sat talking around the kitchen table one evening when I said something, although just now I can’t quite recall what.  I do remember that, after the chuckles subsided, my older brother said “Well, Deb always has been a worry-wart.”

A hundred-watt bulb lit up over my head. He was right, of course.  (Big brother is nearly always right.) So strange that I never realized the truth of his words until then.  I guess I figured everyone worried about their kids staying out late, and about loved ones driving in bad weather.  Didn’t everyone wonder if they’d turned off the stove before leaving home?  Didn’t everyone fret whether they’d locked the door, and shut the upstairs window?  In the mall parking lot, did I lock the car, or not?  Did I remember to charge my cell phone before I left on a road trip?  Did I bring the car charger?

I’ve generally kept my worry-wart nature hidden.  Few people know about it, except those closest to me.  Oh, and maybe the neighbors who observe my frequent returns to re-check the front door.  And now, those of you who are reading this post.

In her book, HEROES & HEROINES: Sixteen Master Archetypes, author Tami Cowden describes sixteen basic characteristics for heroes and heroines.  There isn’t a worrier among them.  None of my heroines have been worriers either.  I guess worry just isn’t a very heroic quality.

Still, I think it is a trait that might work well with a Nurturer – a mother who worries unduly.  Or a Waif who might worry about how she will find her next meal, even after she wins the lottery.  Or a Crusader who might worry over whether the greedy nuclear plant builders have built in enough safeguards.

Our heroes and heroines must be heroic but they must be real, too. Perfection creates boredom.  Heroes and heroines are more real when they have some inborn less-than-desirable quality to overcome.  Jealous, intolerant, greedy, vengeful, or lacking faith.  And one who, occasionally, worries.

I believe the reverse is true for villains.  Even Hannibal Lecter, among the most chillingly evil of villains, cared for and, in his own way, looked after Clarice.  I’d love to read about a villain who, in addition to his despicable nature, is also honest, caring, generous, or tolerant.  And yes, even one who worries. 

12 thoughts on “Worry-Wart

  1. Yes, worrier here. And I believe it’s a genetic trait, most likely caused by the biochemistry of the brain. Not the best trait to have, though it does make you careful. Going back to check the door more than once leads you into OCD, lol. Also a disorder caused by biochemistry.

    I probably should write a heroine who’s a worrier. It wouldn’t be hard! But I like to get away from myself when I write.

  2. Carly, the worry aspect does seem to run in my family so it must be nature, or nurture. Or possibly a bit of both.

    I looked at your sites. Your books look like fun reads! Thanks for stopping in.

  3. Oh, Deb,

    I’m a master at worrying. Probably would have the equivalent of a PH.D if such degrees were possible. Actually, I think it’s partly due to my genetic make-up (Mom was a master also), the fact that I’m a Capricorn (every Cap I know is one), and my birth order (oldest child, oldest daughter).

    I never had a chance and yes, a few of my heroines have been worriers also.

    Great post!

  4. MJ, I think one of our earliest connections was that, as Capricorn writers, we understood each other and yes, a large part of that was the whole worry thing. My mom was a worrier too, AND a Capricorn. And I, too, am the oldest daughter. Another double whammy! 🙂

    I look forward to reading more of your books and seeing how you handle the whole worry thing.

    Can’t wait until WisRWA in June!

  5. Deb,

    Great blog. I’m not a worrier about most things but you’re absolutely correct about worrying over our kids. And it NEVER stops. I’m still worrying over my two and they’re in their 30s. Only difference now is, I have no say in what they do or how late they stay out. Did I worry my mom like that? No way. Not me. I was perfect!!!!


  6. Kat, like you I’ve come to realize that being a mom is for life. Recently, though, I’ve noticed my sons are started to give me advice about little things. Could they be worried about me?

    Good to hear from you!

  7. Hi, Deb! Great post and what a wonderful resource on archetypes.
    My heroine is a worry-wart, her quest is to become a recovered worry-wart but even so-worry she does. She possesses strong characteristics of her author 😉

  8. Hi Deb,
    Such an interesting topic, and I’m a total fan of Cowden’s book! I don’t see why a worrier heroine wouldn’t fly…worrying is such a human condition that I think it would allow a lot of readers to identify with the character. If the heroine is able to act in spite of her worries and not shut down, that’s pretty heroic to me. 🙂
    Great blog…and I love the picture of you as a little girl…what a dolly!

  9. Misty,

    You’re right on the worrier heroine. In re-examining the heroine in a wip that I’d put away from for a while, I see that she worries a whole lot more than I first realized. Guess it’s all where we are when we write the book.

    For some reason, that’s always been a favorite pic. Must have been Mom’s too, since she had several copies, including a 5 x 7. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping in!

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