“Wish we could hold these moments in our hands forever.... “
I wrote this phrase in an email to a friend. We were discussing the reaction of
her partner to a joyous event, but as I sent the email it occurred to me that
in my books, I have the opportunity to create moments that might endure
forever. Forever. That’s a really long word. But I take the lives of my
characters quite seriously, analyzing every reaction, considering character
strengths and flaws, carefully allocating each word they speak. If I’m then
able to capture the joy and pain and hidden emotion in their lives, well, I
will have succeeded, forever.
Every writer I know spends hours, days, probably weeks, delving into the
backgrounds of their characters, to create a true reaction to every obstacle
while trimming the cadence of their voice to match an upbringing that is only
imagined, yet so very real. So our characters live and breathe. Their goals are
ours; their beliefs and love and family, all of it, forever.
And then there’s world building. Whether based on reality or fantasy, that
world we create has its own rules, bureaucracy, construction, inhabitants,
flora, and physical reality. Our characters live there. For them, that world is
as real as it is for me, forever.
I have always yearned for the moments I create in my books to be memorable, to
make my readers laugh and cry, to reach their hearts. Now I’m feeling intimidated. I’ve never worried about whether my book will be
pulled off a dusty shelf 40 or 50 years from now to be read or re-read. But it
might be, and while 40 years isn’t forever, having my words impact someone’s
life 40 years from now feels like forever, to me. So now I've been reminded, I
do hold these moments in my hands, forever.