The author weaves a story with voices, both in out of the characters awareness. The narrator may bring much to the table, lest the characters exclusively take his role.
Even so, the character’s mind brings more to the scene than we might in our own. Are we the characters in our story? The heroes and champions of our novel like non-fiction? Or are we the writer, putting much of our heart into what happens, subtly manipulating events in hopes to achieve a goal. Do we reach that goal? Or perhaps our audience misunderstands and under-appreciates our efforts, instead casting their own ideas, blanketing all that we prepared. Or. Perhaps we ARE the audience, interacting with this entertaining display to reach our pleasures. Or, perhaps we feel the narrator is more in keeping with who we are someone else dictating our thoughts and impulses, feelings and motivations.
Maybe we like move around. I think people are fluid like that. But even so, when we change from author to audience, how much really changes? Don’t we have something characteristically “us”? Don’t we bring our own inescapable perceptions with us no matter the role?
I’m…. inadequate. I have an inferiority complex. I need to show others why I am smart, and then act humbled when I am complimented on my efforts, ideas, and results. I need that constant validation to remind me that I am who I want to be. I don’t look down on others, most of the time I truly feel that they are worth more than me. When I dissent with people, I am frustrated, but often relent, both because that feels the right thing to do and because they may have more value in this world than I.
An example: We have a very strong-willed and agitated neighbor. She has a couple of children, one of which is autistic. I don’t rightfully know the age of these children, but the autistic one seems to probably be around 3 years old. We ran into a huge confrontation with our neighbor, our yard was continuously being flooded. This was because the water would run in their yard directly from the faucet for hours at a time on occasion. It did not appear our neighbor was consistently watching her kids, seeming to rely on the older child to keep the younger one safe.
During our first confrontation with our neighbor, we did not know the child was autistic though we had suspicions he might have some sort of special needs because of the sounds he made while playing. Finally when we were enduring the immense flooding (our entire yard and spilled across to the opposite side into our driveway, hard to really explain, but it was an extreme amount, not just along the fence we shared) for the fifth time I think I politely asked whoever was out there to keep the water in their pool because our yard was being flooded. My glasses were off because I had just finished setting up a bed frame and was under it, I could not see who was out there clearly but I got a nod and thanked them. When I first started requesting the water be turned off, I had not reached the fence either and was instead assuming an adult was out there watching the child (at the time I also did not know there was another child). So I go inside and say to my fiance I am not sure if that was an adult or an older child, but the water was turned off and I felt relieved that a solution seemed to have been reached.
A few minutes later our neighbor, the adult one, walks up to the fence we share and starts shouting at us, and yes we are inside at this point. She yells about how dare we talk to her kids that way and how they can run water all the way to Japan if they would so like. My fiance went to confront her after enduring a few minutes of verbal abuse and the situation didn’t really improve. I freaked out because I felt like I did something wrong. “How dare I talk to her children. She’s right, I didn’t even CHECK for an adult first. Shit, I messed up.” My brain is stuttering trying to right itself, reminding me that I was extremely polite. “But I really messed up, fuck.” “No, children are just easily intimidated, I you remember being a child right?”
All this time of this panicking and mixed dialogue, my fiance is engaging this wrath. I finally realize that I need to go address and say something, anything. I can’t leave her out there. That’s also messed up. I go out and the first thing I say is an apology that falls apart because I start tensing up again. I try to explain I didn’t know an adult was out there. The situation de-escalates a smidge and we go inside finally. Following day, my lovely fiance delivers cookies and little plush cows, “mini moos”, from chick-fil-a. They seem to be accepted and so we feel our olive branch mended the situation.
Fast forward a couple weeks, the yard is flooded again. HUGE confrontation. Way worse than last time. At this point we are informed by the woman that her child is autistic and this is the only way he really seems to have fun. Although that information is disseminated quite violently and with a great deal of vulgarity. I somehow remained calm, I don’t know how, God gave me some sort of stillness in the moment. Our neighbor seemed to punctuate her insults and exclamations by pounding her hand on the brick wall. She insisted she was pregnant or she would be “beating the shit” out of my fiance. Also if my fiance’s man (that’s me) weren’t here, same thing. I keep trying to return to the issue of compromise. We don’t want to take her son’s playing in the water away, but she will interpret this conversation as nothing else. Amidst her rantings and screaming about how my fiance should be “fucked up the ass with no Vaseline” she laments that she doesn’t have the money to regularly take her kids to the pool.
Rationally I feel that was a deflection, because that water bill can’t be less than trips to the pool. My fiance storms off while I try to calm our neighbor down. But afterwards I felt like I still owed my neighbor something. Rationally I knew this not to be true. Anyway, to shorten the story, I bought summer passes to the city’s pools. $100 out of my pocket to give to this lady who may not even use them. But it brought me peace of mind. I felt I went out of my way to right a wrong, which didn’t even exist. We truly did no wrong. But also, it felt like I was called to do that, as Christian/good person sort of thing.
But in the end, I remind myself, she’s just a person, like me. I laugh about how my neighbor is crazy. And then internally chastise myself for saying (and thinking) that. We are all the same I force the idea on myself, sometimes more easily than others. We are all the same, except that I am a little less.
I am the author, not the hero, I have an active role in the story, but I have no glory. I merely aim to keep the character’s stories alive. I don’t like sad stories, but things often turn to sorrow. It’s the little details that I cherish and make it worth it, the ones that other characters don’t observe or understand. The intent behind the writing, the motivations, not the actions. I aim to fill my heart with goodness and love, and spread that to others. I find myself relying on the author more and more. It’s okay that the characters are better than me, I enjoy this part of life more often than not.