Not Even My Great Aunt Brunhilde
I never could see any of the hidden pictures in the Magic Eye posters. Not a single one. And not for lack of trying. I tried every trick they tell you, plus some I made up on my own. Squinting? Check. Holding it to my nose and moving it away and back again? Check. Laying upside down while wearing a scarf for an eye patch? Check.
I think there is a little bit of belief that goes into seeing something your brain tells you is not there. Throw in a touch of perspective in with that belief? Now you’re cooking with gas.
I guess what I mean here is that if you believe the dolphins are going to be visible if you just look long enough, well then eventually you are going to see dolphins appear as if by magic. If you don’t believe – and I didn’t, not really – then there’s a very slim chance you’re going to see any dolphins.
What prompts the thought of Magic Eyes and perspective on this fine Sunday evening?
Perspective. Ours. That of those around us. All perspective and the variety of thoughts different perspectives can lead to.
Specifically the perspectives and thoughts of what different people think of things we create. Let’s say you write a story about a crazy old woman (maybe she lived in a shoe … maybe she didn’t). And maybe she has a particularly peculiar character quirk. Maybe she orders her water at a restaurant in a coffee mug. If the waiter brings water in a glass she sends it back every time. Now let’s say your Great Aunt Brunhilde also orders her water in coffee mugs. Suddenly G.A. Brunhilde sees similarities in this character in other ways. Even though there’s absolutely nothing other than this one quirk that they have in common.
What do you do? The crazy old woman is a great character, she’s spunky, cantankerous, and obstinate, but Auntie Brunhilde can’t separate her own sweet disposition from this character. Her thoughts have taken her in a wild direction.
Maybe you’re tempted to hide the crazy old bat away, never to be seen again in any other story. But darn it, she’s a great character. And she deserves to solve mysteries the likes that would make Miss Marple perk up to hear about.
We have to consider, as creatives, that we may type words that will lead the people in our lives to believe we are talking about them. Sometimes we can have an easy conversation that will help them see that though there are similarities (I mean, how many people insist on restaurant water in a mug, after all?), in reality it’s a fictional character. Sometimes, however, that won’t work. No matter how many times you try Aunt Brunhilde just sees herself in that story.
When that happens?
Please shrug. Write the best character you can. And remember your disclaimer at the beginning of your tale … “Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. And any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.”
(There was no harming to any Great Auntie Brunhilde’s in the making of this week’s blog post.)