Thinklings’ newest book (Sand to Glass, a dark literary fantasy) has got me thinking more than usual, lately, about mental health, personality types, and how everyone has their own way of coping with stress. . . . It’s a timely book—very timely, indeed!
In Sand to Glass, a royal family is under increasingly intense pressure, mostly due to a plague of Accursed beings attacking their kingdom, Ordyuk. As the attacks grow stronger and more frequent, threatening to destroy Ordyuk, we see the effects on the family members’ mental health through their interactions with each other. (There’s a lovely, complex pattern you may notice if you pay attention.)
Each character is both static and dynamic, undergoing some changes but not switching their basic personality type. At first, the book may seem simplistic, but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface—treasure you have to dig for. Sand to Glass has also been compared to a mirror: “each of us will find our own connection, something that reflects back to us an image and understanding of our own lives” (Darcia Helle, Amazon top reviewer).
The book is largely a collection of character sketches, and the four main characters (the royal siblings) represent—in my opinion--the four humors: choleric, sanguine, phlegmatic, and melancholy. These roughly correspond to the DISC types, which you might be more familiar with.
I had to take the DISC personality test in high school and college, and I always got C (melancholy) as my highest. I have practically no I (sanguine), and my D (choleric) and S (phlegmatic) are duking it out somewhere in the middle. I vacillate between CD, called “creative,” and CS, “perfectionist.”
As a C/melancholic, I primarily identify with the youngest brother, who starts out having no clue where he fits in and is constantly feeling awkward, uncertain, and in the way. I can tell that, like me, he’s also highly sensitive and probably neurodivergent. So I really empathize with the poor kid! I wish that, back when I was in school, they’d known more about neurodivergence, mental health, and sensitivity. It might have spared me a lot of pain.
But, sadly, the “extrovert ideal” was praised as The Way To Be. “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you talk?” and all kinds of other rude words were frequently flung at me. I grew to believe that there was something fundamentally wrong with me, and so as I got bullied daily at school, I kind of felt like I deserved it. Mostly kept quiet about it. I didn’t understand the other kids, couldn’t figure out how to relate to them. . . . Not that I understood all this back then; after reading Quiet and The Highly Sensitive Person and various articles on neurodivergence, not to mention having a fully developed prefrontal cortex now, I am finally putting together the puzzle of who I am and appreciating my strengths and uniqueness.
My childhood was a very dark, confusing time, but (only by the grace of God!) I survived and also grew and learned from the pain. I’m not going to spoil what happens to my “counterpart” in Sand to Glass—so read it and find out!
Also, lately, it feels like my D/choleric side is getting stronger; since the chaos of 2020, I’ve developed a growing anger at all the horrible things and injustice I’ve been seeing around me. While reading Sand to Glass, I found myself relating to the oldest brother too, who’s furious at situations that are out of his control. He’s intelligent and knows how they could/should be better, but he also understands that one person can’t change the whole world. Even though he’s going to be king, it still doesn’t mean he can fix everything. He certainly can’t magic the Accursed out of existence! And that really gets under his skin. He vents his rage by ranting, which scares some people—but pay attention to his actions, not just his words. I especially love the scenes with him and the youngest brother.
I used to think that anger was bad, period. Angry people were portrayed as examples of how not to be. But a lot of those characters were really caricatures, and it’s what you do with your anger that can be good or bad. (Fire, the metaphor used in Sand to Glass, is a good one! It can burn down your house or cook your food and protect you from frostbite.) My growing anger sometimes scares me, and I have been reading books on how to control it—some kinds of anger are simply unhelpful and need to be resolved and conquered. But sometimes anger produces the necessary driving force to spur us into good actions.
For instance, I have been mad at the publishing industry for rejecting a lot of people’s amazing books—but it’s what I do with that feeling that’s important. Instead of ranting on Twitter, saying mean things to people in the industry, spreading gossip about them, or whatever other nasty ideas I could come up with . . . rather than those unwise and destructive things, my friends and I decided to be constructive and start our own publishing company, Thinklings. We’re using our “fire” to help great writers fulfill their publishing dreams.
(And we do understand that more help was needed to carry the load of all the great books that are out there.)
All right, I’d better wrap up this post. I don’t always have a neat thesis statement and three supporting points like I was taught in school. ;) Sometimes I just like to ramble on topics like personality types, and you’re an awesome person if you made it this far!
Until next month. . . .
P.S. – What fiery passion has motivated YOU to do good things or to make needed changes?
Sarah Awa lives in Ohio with two hairy guys and writes books about werewolves.