About Me

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Pennsylvania, United States
What changes hath time wrought...mostly a different hair-color, a few wrinkles and loss of short-term memory.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Good Writer's Block?

It occurred to me the other day while I was on a walk that what authors write in their fiction stories may cause friction in their everyday lives. I've never written an adult fiction story but I have written some children's stories with my daughter and son and have some ideas for picture books I would also like to write and illustrate. In those stories my kids had a role. There could be no doubt they were part of the story. Things they did or said were included in the stories. I only recently thought about developing a mature novel. (I wanted to write "adult novel" but that sounded pornographic.) This is mainly because on reaching middle age I've started to reflect on my past and have started to revise bygone situations more to my liking. This should be harmless. No one yet can see inside my head to know what I'm thinking. But taking it a step beyond the brain and recording it on paper/monitor makes it "real." The friction begins when said spouse believes what is written is the truth, not merely a more interesting version of it.

I wonder how many romance novel authors get divorces because of what they've described in a steamy love scene? Is what they're describing what they're experiencing? If yes, then the spouse may feel pride in the description. If no, what are they supposed to feel? Humility?

I read The Divine Comedy several years ago and it always amused me how Dante Alighieri would put contemporaries in various levels of hell! I thought that was a funny prank to play on ass-ociates. But from my new point of view he must have pissed off a lot of people. And how did those folks in hell feel when they read the book? How about members of their family? Did they chuckle? Did they stew and carry a grudge? Everyone now and at the time understands it was a work of fiction. But still, to be publicly pilloried by an acquaintance? That's problematic.

So now considering what I would write in a story I'm curious how much is actual nonfiction in others' writing??? I used to encourage my students to "write what they know." I KNOW my husband would be suspicious. I think he is curious about my relationships prior to our first date. I was very lucky to have dated gentlemen ( yes, even at age 15-21 they were courteous.) who treated me with the utmost decency. I wouldn't change a thing about any of those relationships, even in my imagination.

In 23 years I've never given my husband any reason to BE suspicious. I've never been tempted to change a thing about our lives together. (Warning: the following is a reference to Stephanie Meyers' Twilight Saga.) Honestly, he IS my Edward Cullen. I never met anyone who I could imagine loving or wanting more. But Middle Age does funny things to people. I actually GET why people do weird things to recapture their youth, And though I still don't have any desire for anyone but Tim, a Jacob Black, from across the ocean, has crept into my thoughts. And it's this untested relationship (from exactly 2 decades ago!) that has me creating a story that absolutely did not happen! And it boils down to if I had been the person I am today- 20 years ago, and taken those risks I backed away from then, how would my life be different? That would be the fictional story. For the time being I prefer vampires over werewolves without a doubt. For the sake of my beloved maybe a writer's block should be instituted.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Big Brother Is Watching

I'm definitely channeling my mother. I don't let my 5-year or 9-year old watch regular TV shows. They watch an hour of PBS and The Clone Wars on Friday night. [TCW is thanks to my hubby.] They are allowed to watch DVDs. I'm opposed to regular TV mostly because of the ads. (There really isn't much on between 7-9pm that is child appropriate, either.) And not so much the adds for stuff but the adds for other shows that are on TV. Thankfully neither child complains because they've never known anything different. But how long can I protect them? And from what exactly am I protecting them? My mother was protecting our virgin eyes and ears and I think I'm trying to do something similar. I feel like I'm alone in my views.

At a party the other day I asked how old children should be when they get their first cell phone. I'd already had this discussion with my daughter when SHE asked me this. My reply was when she could afford to pay the monthly bill that came along with the phone. I was surprised at how young some of the other mothers' kids were when they first got a cell phone. I have a real problem with cell phones in the hands of adolescents. I don't think most kids have any idea of the repercussions of sharing an innocent/sinister picture of an embarrassing moment.

When I was in high school I was on the basketball team. It took quite a while for me to be comfortable even disrobing in front of other females much less showering with them. Then there was an incident involving some boys peering through open windows in the locker room after a practice. I was mortified! Now anyone can snap a picture at anytime. And once that picture is posted there's no removing from someone's brain. The utter lack of privacy is frightening. And I truly believe there is a connection between what kids are seeing on TV through "reality" shows, that allow cameras to view what should be extremely private moments, and what they choose to photograph and post online. It's funny how often I have these thoughts and an article in the Discover magazine supports my fears.

Discover asked a number of scientists where they thought science may take us in the next 30 years. Sherry Turkle, "a professor of the social studies of science at MIT," said it so perfectly. "We need to reclaim our private spaces." This generation believes that their privacy will be compromised but also believes that's the "cost of doing business in their world." So all the surveillance cameras, satellite photos, GPS and Loopt (I'd never heard of this but its an app for your phone which allows your friends to locate you wherever you are.) are not feared but cheered! It's so easy to see the convenience of these gadgets but is that what we really want? Big Brother IS watching, along with your best friends, acquaintances, colleagues...etc. For those of us who read Orwell's 1984 a few years BEFORE it was 1984 never considered this kind of constant benign(?) scrutiny possible.

I understand the entertainment value of Facebook and Twitter. I do enjoy reading about what people I know are doing. I don't post or read posts as much as I initially did. I realized that some thoughts should be kept private or blogged- where people who are truly interested can read them without taking offense.

I would love to get a Master's degree in Teen Privacy Issues and develop an educational course to restore independent thought. It's time to start considering career paths...my 5-year old will be starting school next year. I'm not sure I want to go back to the elementary school teacher role. My 11 years were so much fun but I feel...older...and should do something more philanthropic. Hopefully as I write more often I'll discover a direction to go.