Friday, September 03, 2010

Defining Moments

In the past week, I've been busy. Unfortunately not because I've been writing. No, I'll chalk it up to life...which we all know has it's ups and downs. You know those moments that make you stop and go, I'll never be the same again....well I've had three of those this week (well two were due to friends and family).

The first was a wedding that occurred last Saturday. The youngest of my cousins, at age 30, said I do in a small country chapel near where he's stationed as a wildlife officer. I did imagine how this would change our family, but I also thought about how the event would change his life. Sure he and his wife had been dating a few years, and had recently renovated a house together, but I wasn't sure they'd worked out some issues. Then again, I'm not the one to judge, and they aren't characters in my book :0) I think the ramifications of the moment struck him when he was repeating his vows. He teared up, had to pause a couple times, and had to take a few deep breaths because he was so overcome. There are few times I've ever seen him this emotional. Taking that big a step can be overwhelming to say the least.

That's often why the wedding scene in a novel comes at the end...as a way to "illustrate" that the hero and heroine have made that big step and have worked through issues. For most it means getting rid of the me and focusing on the we, which is integral to any relationship. Because it is such a big moment, a wedding can also serve as the BBM, when things go awry. How many books have we seen where a busted wedding leads to a self-journey AKA a better man/woman or to a secondary character having their own quest.

I arrived at my FT job Monday and saw my friend was upset. I asked her what was wrong, and she looked at me as if I should know. Immediately I said, I haven't been online...since the wedding location was in a small town and there never a good wi-fi connection. (Not to mention I would've had to wrestle my hubby's phone away, taking away his only source of entertainment.) Come to find out a pastor who was integral in shaping her life as well as her husband's had passed away suddenly in his sleep. It was a big blow for both of them, and I think a call to reevaluate their place in life and their direction in it. As she sat there trying to decide whether to spend the money to attend the visitation and funeral, she already knew the answer. She and her husband had to go...and spend the money they didn't have since he'd lost his job.

Sometimes even life's small decisions make a big impact. Like those plot points that lead up to more pivotal actions/decisions by the hero and heroine in a book. This is why everything a character does should have significance. Sometimes one simple decision can make or break a relationship. Did the hero forget to forward his mail and miss out on an invitation or did a heroine drop out of class too soon to realize the teacher really just has a quirky sense of humor?

Next up is the birthday, which happens this Saturday. Birthdays, like New Year's Days, are a biggie. A time for reflection on how things have changed over 365 days. Some birthdays are easier than others, like hitting 16 or 21. Others we take in stride, like 30 and above til 40. Then there are the tough ones, we say don't matter but we secretly dread...like 50. So whose birthday is it? Mine...and my twin, not to mention a cousin, and a friend's little girl. Popular day isn't it? A co-worker asked if I was upset because I always had to share my birthday. In a way it is sad because we always had to compromise. But it also means I don't have to celebrate alone and that someone else can share my anxiety. :0) Many things have changed for me since last year, but pretty much I'm still the same me...with a couple gray hairs. Though my husband pacifies me by saying they're only light blonde. I do know I'm not rushing to the beauty parlor just yet.

Milestones like these things called birthdays, can often be the single catalyst for a book. (And as we've seen this year, several movies.) It's all about trying to see if the character measures up to where they thought they'd be and if they've lived how they set out to. Sometimes it means trying to start/complete a bucket list of things to do before they die. Which in itself gives the author a plethora of interesting plots to point the hero and heroine toward.

What's one of your defining moments? A wedding, a death, a birth, the call, a book release? Yes, they count especially if your book has been back to press :0)

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