Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Interesting Wake-up Call

Interesting how we forget things. Even in my book. Recently I got so jammed up, wondering how I was going to start creating conflict between two of my characters, that I haven't been able to write anything.  I was investigating their relationship from every single perspective, but any idea that suggested itself to me seemed to be forced, repetitive and worst of all, over-used. Then something occurred to me...

Every morning, the first thing I do is to switch on my radio and the first thing I heard this morning was the release of the Lead SA initiative. Basically it's a call to start changing South Africa by remembering to respect others and rules, to practice what we preach etc. At first I just rolled my eyes and grumbled about it to my mother at the breakfast table. "Yes, it's all very good and well," I muttered, "but heaven forbid that people don't wear the armbands, because without it they'll never remember to be decent people." (For those of you that are wondering: yes, I am a closet cynic. I try not to be, but it's a constant battle.) 

To my defense, I believe that I am a fairly decent person and my belief is simply that people should stop being arrogant self-righteous pricks and just treat others the same as they want to be treated. Note: not as they are being treated. as they want to be treated.

Then, as I took the half an hour trip to university, it occurred to me that, sad as it is, an armband might just be what people need. After all. Years and years of people mistreating us in various big and little ways make us build thick walls around us for protection. It also makes us go automatically on the offensive. We attack without thinking, without even realising it and inflict damage on even more people. It becomes such a habit that we do need reminders that we need to be nice. I realized that even I forget. Especially me, with my walls built even thicker than most.

Generally, I am quite a nice person. Really I am. But I have this thing that I cultured in high school where I retaliate and with substantial force at the smallest of provocations. I'm not proud of this, but it's how I got through high school. I've been trying to kick this habit for four years. But in moments of anger I forget that walking away is an option. That a lot of times it should be my only option. So even I, with my high moral views, can be and was a self-righteous idiot when it came to this topic. (At this stage I am going to lie and say I'm not a good morning person.) I blame it on the fact that I'm not a good morning person.

I was feeling terrible rotten about this, when another thought started careening through my head. It went something like this: "That's the point! That is exactly the point."

I had lost perspective. I got so fixated on the conflict that I forgot what the biggest theme of the book is about. What happens if one day, someone actually did something? Basically, it's about how no problem ever vanishes until people start taking small steps to fix it. So, ironically, the moral of my book is exactly what had me rolling my eyes.

Also, this dilemma also explained one of the Conflict characters, James to me perfectly. Like me he had spent years building walls. And the conflict comes from his being challenged to stop hiding behind them.

Ladies and gentlemen: I can announce with a huge smile that my writer's block has been vanquished.

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