Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Perspectives - by Michael Davis

Bear with me on this post and read to the end because it’s not what you first expect.

When my boys hit their teen years I wanted to help them establish proper perspective with the true nature of life. I explained that our journey from birth to dead was a series of hills and valleys. It’s easy when you’re at the top of a mountain to gaze out and feel positive about things. The trick is to remember when you’re down in a valley it’s just part of the journey and shortly you’ll climb up again and see the sunshine. Hopefully each of us has more mountain tops then valleys in our path but if we keep perspective about those days up on the peaks then the pits wouldn’t seem so bad. I know they listened because I’ve heard them reflect such thoughts in conversations with friends and other family members.

I find lately that, for some reason, I’ve lost that perspective. There are more dark days then light, which is odd seeing I’ve arrived in that stage referred to as the golden years. Being analytical by nature, I’ve tried to assess the cause, and I’ve come up with many possibilities:

  1. Could be the nature of retired life. I don’t have the accomplishments and challenges when I struggled with complex problems in my job to support the military. I’ve talked to other retired men and many sense that lose of challenge they used to have in their work.
  2. Could be the change in hormones. As men advance in years our testosterone levels decrease. Besides the obvious change in drives and strength, I’ve always felt clarity of purpose and zest for my existences being a man.
  3. Maybe it’s all the aches and pains I seem to have now. I remember when I was a teenager hearing my dad moan and groan each morning as he got out of bed to go to work. Now I sound just like him. Takes two Ibuprofen to kick in before I can move without pain. And I get sore so quickly now. Ten years ago I could perform hard physical labor for 10 hours and just fell fatigue. Now it’s like someone ripping a rake through the muscles in my body. I just finished rebuilding the deck on my house by myself and had to stop every 2 hours for a rest. Man I’m getting old.
  4. Or it could just be the state of affairs in America today. The country I struggled for and worked to help evolve and progress has changed so drastically, I don’t recognize it anymore. I’m sure our forefathers are shaking their heads in disbelieve for where we’re headed. No, I’m not worried about myself. I don’t have that long to watch things decline. But the nation, and the life of my children and granddaughter, will not offer the reward and happiness I experienced in my journey. The boobs in DC are doing everything to drag us over the waterfall socially, economically and in terms of the security of our populace. And the media just covers it up. Problem is I’ve always been one to attack problems, solve them, do everything in my power to protect and help my family and friends, but not this time. The mistakes of the past few years are beyond anything the real people in the country can fix. Our leaders are lost or just care about politics and not the true course of our nation. So many in this country are suffering because of the selfish blind ambitions of Washington, so many more will suffer in five years, and yet no one wants to see what’s coming over the horizon. I race to the tip of the mountain and there is no sunlight. Everything in the distance is bleak for the nation that once stood so proud, for the people that mean so much to me, and I can do nothing but watch. I am powerless to stop the insane path we’re on.

Perhaps the state of our existence is the true wound that plaques my thoughts, causes nightmares, washes away the smile and humor that once accompanied my spirits everywhere I went, no matter how windy and dark the storm outside. Or maybe I should just fake it, like so many. Maybe that is the new perspective I seek, a return to the matrix and ensuing fantasy world where things make sense and we imagine control over our destiny. That’s it. I’ll just have them plug me back into the machine. Yes, yes, that is much easier, much less painful. It’s not real, but who cares. The truth is so ugly, why deal with it. Ah, I feel better now. Forgive my excursion into the reality outside the matrix. Thanks for listening. I don’t know what got into me. Must have been something I ate last night. Oh, one more thing. If a bald black guy wearing dark glasses and a leather jacket offers you two pills, be sure to take the red one so you can stay in here with me where all is well.

OMG, what just happened in the post above? Has the big guy gone off the deep end? No, relax, I’m not going postal. I just shared the process I use to evolve the flaws and reality in the main characters in my stories. I’ve been fortunate in many of my 5 star reviews to be cited for the realism and relationship readers develop with my characters. The way I do it is to select an internal conflict or defect for the main characters that relates somehow to the premise or theme of the story.

For example in TAINTED HERO the premise was sometimes good people do bad things. The struggle for Eric (the hero) was his ability to deconflict between good and bad from a social and a personal level. In FORGOTTEN CHILDREN the premise was Greed is blind to human suffering. The defect in the hero Mark, an investigative reporter, was his willingness to ignore the slippery slope. When Mark discovers a crime, he doesn’t share with the authorities because he sees them as a bureaucracy that will only encumber solving the case. The ends justify his means because he will solve the crime sooner, at least that’s the self induced motive he uses to justify his actions. In the end he comes to grip with the repercussions of the villain’s willingness to do what Mark did under the guise of the greater good of mankind, and the fact that his flawed judgment may have cost lives. I know, seems complicated to create a story to accomplish linkage between the story premise and the characters personality, and it is, but I enjoy doing it.

In the illustration above with my discussion of “perspective” I was actually evolving the conflict within the hero for a new story I’m currently working on with my coauthor budette, Candace Morehouse, called WHISPERS OF INNOCENCES. Over the past few years the hero, Drake Elliot, has lost perspective on his life, who he is as a man, his relationship with his family; and that detachment from the true relevance of what’s important has cost him dearly. Now, how do I create that struggle and realism with Drake and all my other characters? I use myself as a guinea pig. With most of us, to varying degrees at some point in our existence, we have been confused or struggled with specters and demons of all kinds. Well so have I, a lot of them. So, I select the conflict (in this case perspective) and evolve what it would be like for me on a personal level, and I do it completely, like it is real. I take my struggles with that condition from memory and expound on it, then I mold and convert it to my character. If I haven’t experienced that particular conflict I become absorbed in how I would react and struggle to such conditions.

Like I said, it is involved, but I thing it helps to derive realistic characters, and there’s a little of me in each hero or heroine. If you want to see how things work out for Drake and the heroine in WHISPERS OF INNOCENCES, come back in about a year and a half, that’s how long the writing/publishing process takes for the story to be released.

Tell next time.
Michael Davis (
Author of the year, 2008

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