How do other people do things, or think?
I don’t believe it’s something we consider a lot. By the time we’re adults, most of us know a bit about ourselves – how we react to certain situations, what makes us nervous, what our favourite foods are… frankly all sorts of things.
We only know how to be us; we only know how the human being WE are works – and sometimes not all that well. I hate bad drivers, to this day they trigger me and I haven’t developed a good skill for dealing with them, other than to revert to New Jersey behaviour and call them something colourful and get annoyed.
Writing is a good example of what we don’t know. If you read Hemingway, Stout and Joyce, you’ll see they use words differently – they express themselves with a distinct style, and each has a unique approach to language. I’ve read that it is difficult for someone to mimic the feel of another author – there is so much of our personhood, our identity in the way we express ourselves for us to really be able to grasp the core of who someone else is in a way that allows us to parrot them.
People can change styles – I’ve written in first person, third person, present and past tenses – but the way we put together our thoughts, the circumstances we highlight, the words we choose, the cadence to our speech or writing… it is all varied.
I thought of this the other day when I posted the following tweet:
The song is sad; it’s about loss but it’s a great song done in typical Offspring style – not a ballad, but strong with hard guitar and Dexter Holland yelling at you about pain.
It’s the little things in books that you sometimes feel the most and they come from the author’s own experience; sometimes you can extrapolate what may have happened to create the scene, other times it’s so obfuscated you’ll never know the origin point, and whether it is real or a contrast to how the author feels.
Perspective is valuable – it’s interesting. There’s merit in trying to see things from other points of view, but don’t lose sight of your own, the value it has, or how it might have shaped who you are. Turn it all – the pain, the disappointment, the joy and hope – into a strength. In to you.