Monday, March 15, 2010

The Human Perception & Reflection

Having kids, I think, has improved my writing skills. Sounds crazy, I’m sure, but I’m serious. And I promise I haven’t had anything to drink. Yet. (Kids attribute to that, too.) I’ve mentioned it before, how my kids have helped me become a better writer. Every now and again I get into those deep-thinking modes (scary, I know), and today was one of those days.

My eldest is now 4 and ¾s. And don’t just say 4, she’ll be sure to correct rather proudly that she, indeed, is not 4, but 4 and ¾s. My youngest is reaching the 14 month mark, and OMG, people, I can’t even REMEMBER what Big A was like when she was 14 months. Sad, right? If it weren’t for all the videos and pictures, I’d be like, the worst mom ever. But I got to thinking about perceptions, specifically our perception of time, and how skewed it is (at least for me). Almost 5 years have passed, and while it seems to have flown by in light years, as if a hyper-drive was bolted onto her diaper, it also feels like for.ever.ago that she was my little chunky baby. A serious amount of forever ago. Like, half my lifetime forever ago. It doesn’t make sense to feel two perceptions of time at the same, um . . .time. But somehow, that’s how it works in my head.

This example made me think about our characters in the stories we put them in. How, sometimes, it takes a critical eye to look into the mind of that character and pull out the perceptions he/she has of what is going on around them. There are some books I’ve read that I feel fall flat on this subject. Not mentioning any specifically, but I’m sure you could think of one. An MC’s life takes a gigantic course change, her/his reality has been flipped on its ass, and with all the action and face pacedness (it’s a word now, yo), they’re forced to go with the flow. But when things settle down, near the end of the book, a lot of MCs fail to have that “Holy crap, my life HAS changed inside out. It will never be the same again.” type of reflection. Missing what it use to be like, thinking back on when things use to be simpler, less complicated, weird, or horrendous.

Is it because readers don’t care to read that stuff? I’m not sure. I personally think it makes the character more real, more relatable, more fleshy. A personal example that comes to mind for me is theater. I remember (waaaay back in the day) being so wrapped up in a theater production, living it, breathing it, loving it so much it ruled my life, that when the show was over, the final hurrah, something inside of me felt empty. A hole—a physically hurting hole—of what I’d never have again. You can’t go back and relive that. You can’t try and remake that moment in life, it would never happen exactly the same. I lose a sense of this in a lot of books, where an MC has lost something that use to be a major part of them, or an experience that rocked them out of their socks and it’s ended.

So anyway, that’s my deep thoughtful rant for the month. Almost 5 years ago, I became a mom. Only 5 years, and I can’t even imagine what life was like without kids. I feel like I’ve had my girls all my life. Like they’ve always been there. I can’t unwrap this perception and see what life use to be like without them. And I have to wonder if we’re made that way, so that it’s easier to conform to change, adjust, and become more resilient. Or maybe I’m the only one that thinks about this stuff, therefore classifying me as a nutso.


  1. You're not nutso at all. I agree 100% with you. Then again, maybe we're both just nutso. LOL. : )

  2. I'll refrain from commenting on the nutso part, heh, but great post. And I totally agree. I need that acknowledgment that things have changed by the end.

  3. Hey fellow nutso!!!! You're not alone. I've been a mom for 15 years now...15 and 1/4, and by the way they don't stop caring about those fourths. Because now it's on the way to the magical "16" age of driving so that matters in a large way.

    Anyway, that just means I've been nuts for longer, motherhood does tend to make you that way. Trying to remember their childhoods and hanging onto them. Trying to keep both yourself and them sane through the teen years...and let me tell you I'm not sure I'm succeeding.

    On a note of books that do that...Hunger Games strikes me as one where the mc looks back on what her life used to be. Just my opinion. :)

  4. Haha, Thanks Kim and Tracey : Yeah, Sharla, I can only imagine! The Hunger Games is still in my TBR list. In fact, I think the library called me the other day to say it was in, so yay!

  5. Great post. My oldest is turning four on Thursday so I've had a lot of those reflective type feelings lately too. Yep - blink of an eye and yet a lifetime ago.

    Great anaolgy re: characters. The total transformation/perception is right on. I was thinking of this the other day. It's also interesting as some books, the journey can take one day and others can cover years - and everything in between!

  6. That is interesting, Jenn, didn't think of that while writing this, but you're right. In this genre, it seems some books follow the span of a school year, others, well, like mine, a week!

  7. ChristaCarol, you explained this so well! I understand what you mean, because I so relate.


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