Remembering Fiction

I am a big fan of the “Game of Thrones” series, and I recently read an interview with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin in Rolling Stone magazine. He said something both interesting and disturbing. He talks about the fact that some of the things he read as a child — “parties on Gatsby’s lawn” or “the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock” are more real to him than things he actually lived.

He goes on to say: “If we are the sum of our experiences, as I believe we are, then books are a more important part of my life than my actual life. That’s what I try to do with my own fiction: Fill the stories with imaginary people who will become more real to my readers than the people in their lives.”

I completely understand an author’s motivation for creating vivid and memorable characters. Of course, an author would love to have this sort of lasting impression on readers. However, as a reader, I wonder, “Do I want my fictional escapes to be more vivid and real to me than my actual experiences and the people in my life? And if my fictional escapes are more vivid and lasting, what kind of real-life experiences and relationships am I lacking?

Of course, the influence of fiction on our lives doesn’t end with books. We are a culture immersed in numerous forms of entertainment and escape — television, movies, commercials, Youtube videos, etc. Many children spend more time in front of a screen than they do playing outside. So, what will be their childhood memories?

I’m reminded of the lyrics in a Goo Goo Dolls song: “Reruns all become our history.”

Big Steps, Little Steps

I just started jogging again after a six-month hiatus. It is hard — I’m starting from scratch all over again, with only the vague memory that I was once able to do this. As with everything, though, the more I do it, the easier it gets.

It’s like writing. I need to make some changes to my latest novel. I know if I commit to doing a little bit each day, it will get done pretty easily. However, sometimes just getting started is the biggest battle.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” — Mark Twain

I read an interesting article on Oprah.com about the fastest way to make real change. One of the secrets is “to think smaller than small.” Don’t plan to jog around the block — just put your running shoes on every morning for five days straight. Don’t floss your teeth — just floss one tooth. The idea is that the one small step is not daunting, making it easier to take the next step.

I already floss my teeth, and I’ve already started jogging, so maybe I’ll try this approach with my novel. I’ll open a new Word document and just stare at the blank page….

I’ll let you know what happens.

My grandmother …

Aside

My grandmother recently passed away. She was almost 94 years old.

I feel blessed to have had her in my life all these years. She was a wonderful woman. And I’m glad my son (her great-grandson) got to meet her.

I was reminded of something a friend told me once. (She is in her seventies.) She said, “As you get older, you begin to realize that you only have the people in your life temporarily. As a young person, you don’t think about this.”

It’s true – when you’re young, you just never imagine that one day the people you love will be gone. It’s a powerful reminder to appreciate the people you love now. Spend time with them, do nice things for them, tell them how much they mean to you — and do it now, not when they’re gone.

 

Nostalgia

I love nostalgic things. Music can be particularly nostalgic for me. Whenever I hear AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long, for instance, I instantly think of my high school dances. They always played that song.

Certain smells — a perfume someone wore, mud and worms after a good rain, lilacs in Spring — these things always take me back to the past.

I love writing about things that are nostalgic to me, too. My latest book is set in the 1980’s (for part of the story), and I had fun describing hairspray-encrusted bangs, acid washed jeans with just the right amount of fraying, and safety-pinning jean pant legs to give them a tapered look. Remember that? (If you’re under 25 or 30, you probably won’t have a clue what I’m talking about.)

We all have things that are nostalgic to us. For me, the 1980’s are the most nostalgic. Every time I hear a 1980’s song, I wistfully remember being a kid. Though, as a kid, I was often thinking about what it would be like to be a grown-up!