When real life changes fictional life

In a book I’m working on, the first person heroine imagines living alongside her child-self in a past time. Feeling the same emotions, acting out just as she did as a child, at the same time as she’s grown and a third party witness to everything. It’s not easy—she can’t help but comment on what happens from moment to moment since she knows what will happen next. But I’m finding out that that should be the least of it.

In my real life today, I’m in a similar position. Not living in the past, but suddenly thrust into the same circumstances as past, in the same house with the same winter cold and clutter, the same history-worn walls and windows. The bird feeder with the same chickadees, the same land, the same rhythms. I’m here and my recent California past, with its sun-bright landscapes, traffic, manicured hedges and summer roses, all of that is no more. But if I should go back to the West coast, I’d just feel about there the way I feel about here. Predicting the future isn’t my problem. It’s that for the moment I don’t belong anywhere.

The circumstances of our lives, the touch and feel of things, are so important to our identities. I’m not certain the character in my book should be getting away with her rather too comfortable presence in her child-self’s life. It’s not that easy to live in the past, to relate to what is familiar but not. It’s disorienting. I’m displaced.

Since my mover and my car will be arriving this weekend in this place, since the confusion of my existence promises to be more intense than usual, you may not see me on-line for a few days. Then, as matters settle, I may have more to say than you ever thought possible.

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One comment on “When real life changes fictional life
  1. Michael says:

    I feel that each time I visit Millbrae. This time for my mother’s 90th birthday. And reading a well-composed and executed letter to my mother from 103-year-old Pearl Zoerb this weekend makes it seem as if the past is with me forever. Perhaps it will overtake me?

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