Living Rent Free in My Head
Six months ago, I got into a big argument with my mother. She did something stupid with her computer that was against my repeated sound advice. (I am her full time IT support.) When confronted, my mother refused to take responsibility, and the argument has simmered since that day. Of course, we all have our little parental tiffs and that is a part of life.
Since the initial incident, my anger has faded into a minor annoyance, but recently, there was an unexpected wrinkle. I was watching a rerun of the television show The Big Bang. The actor/character, Will Wheaton, did something that angered the character, Sheldon. He became furious and fumed over the incident. When Will realized, he was getting to Sheldon, he pointed to Sheldon’s head and said, “I am living rent free, right here.”
The moment felt like a lightning bolt and I realized I had been allowing my mother’s mistake to get to me. In reality, this incident was her doing, and the result had no effect on me. Yet, my anger still consumed me.
After making the connection, I understood it was possible to release the hold that anger had taken. I felt so much better.
Thinking back on my life, there were many incidents that I fumed over for years. The anger ate my soul, consumed time, and reduced my happiness. I wish I had made the connection when I was ten years old.
But… What about a character? Can their minds have somebody living rent free? “Bill got mad and brooded for months.” “Bill never let the argument go.” “A year later, Bill was still mad.” These statements seem valid, but they are missing the continuing motivation to be angry, and it seems strange that the character cannot let the incident go.
I have learned the hard way that unexplained motivation is reading death. Readers get hung up by this flaw and leave nasty reviews. What can writers do? They must develop an apparent reason for the anger and resolve the situation. “Bill was mad because his mother broke their computer by installing a program from a scam email. A month later, she promised never to do this again. He forgave her, and she offered to take him to dinner.” Easy, logical, closed-loop, and no motivation issues. (I wish real life worked this way.)
Finding areas in our lives to improve upon is terrific, and hopefully, this is the last time somebody will live rent free in my head.

You’re the best -Bill
November 22, 2023
Read my next blog.
We Live Like Kings and That’s Hard to Write About

Follow me

Copyright © 2023 Bill Conrad