“What?” you say? Perspective.
A few years ago, and excuse the ‘proud mum’ talk here, my eldest daughter (then 12) scored top marks in her school speech. Now, that doesn’t surprise me because she is a serious talker. But what blew me away with her speech was the content, more particularly, her perspective. That year our family suffered a major blow when my father died, at the end of February, as the result of a brain tumour. It was a very sad and difficult time, and while I thought we’d been as open and supportive of the children as was possible at the time, it occurred to me when I heard my daughter’s speech that I’d never really understood her perspective. Editing her speech with her was one of the toughest and most wrenching things I’ve ever had to do, because five months later I was finally seeing, in her words and in her way, what she went through. In her speech she mentioned the day we found out about Dad’s latest, and last, melanoma and how she never dreamed he’d die because he’d always been so strong and had survived many (nine) operations before. And then, she talked about how she felt once he was gone. Truly, her perspective on the whole five weeks from diagnosis to death was an amazing insight. No wonder she had her teacher reduced to tears, no wonder she scored top marks.
Sharing her perspective has encouraged me to look at my writing differently too. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have been terribly guilty of ‘author intrusion’. Using my voice in my writing, instead of the character’s. And seriously, each character has their own very distinct way of seeing, tasting, smelling and saying things. What a fire-fighter will compare a warm day to, is probably vastly different to what a priest might, and the way they say it will differ greatly too. Who are we to say it differently? Who are we to do it our way? As writers aren’t we merely telling someone else’s romance story, their way?
Yep, it’s all a matter of perspective all right. Shame that no one said it would be easy.
Oh, and the title for her speech … “Life is like a box of chocolates – you just never know what you’re gonna get”.