Archives for posts with tag: family

It’s my mother’s birthday today.

I went home this weekend to celebrate with my family.

Whenever I go home, I am always reminded of how similar I am to my parents and sisters and how much my home life has shaped me.

This guy was on to something in spite of how much coke he did.

This guy was on to something in spite of how much coke he did.

Like it or not, everyone is shaped by their family. Your parents are the first people you meet. As a child, you probably spend more time with your siblings than anyone else. These are the people that teach you how to be a human and live in a human society. Even the absence of your family can shape the person you become.

And because characters are supposed to be as realistic as possible, they are also shaped by their home lives. When building characters, it’s important to think about how they were raised.

There’s a huge, huge potential for drama in a character’s upbringing. Daddy issues, Oedipal complexes, sibling rivalries- all massive sources of conflict in fiction going straight back to the Greeks. Even if it’s not pertinent to the story, even if you’re not going to include any of the details in the text or plot, you should think about how a character came to be who they are.

Family is a major theme in my own writing. Many of my characters are motivated by ties to their family. Some are devoted to the point of giving up their own lives. Others are unhappily bound, constantly feeling inadequate in the eyes of their parents and siblings.

Regardless of the role that familial bonds play in your plot, it’s important to consider your character’s upbringing. Think about when you meet a friend’s parents. Quirks that you’ve noticed make a lot more sense, as you’re seeing where this person came from and how they learned how to interact with the world.

As creators of fictional people, it’s important for writers to think about family life, as it will allow them to build three-dimensional characters that audiences can understand and relate to.

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This weekend I struggled through the ordeal of moving out of the dorms onto an off-campus apartment in a nearby neighborhood.

They say that moving is one of the most stressful things a person can suffer through and I’m inclined to agree. There are few things worse than making sure that you have all of your shit together.

Moving is also the time where you have to decide what’s important enough to keep and what’s getting chucked, due either to the tendency we have to keep trash lying around until we absolutely have to chuck it, or because there simply isn’t enough space to take everything. And it’s usually sort of sad to throw away things that you want to keep.

And despite the fact that I cursed myself for how much shit I own while packing, it always sort of depresses me to see the small stack of boxes that contain all of my worldly possessions. It reminds me of how small I truly am in this big scary world.

But it makes me wonder, if I had twice as many boxes of shit would my existence be any more noteworthy? Would I matter any more if I had had more things? I feel that the answer is an obvious no. There are so many intangible things that are dearly important to me. Unseen abstractions that shape my physical being. Things that we all have: emotions, ideas, family, friendships, romances. You get the idea.

I have the habit of asking new people what they want out of life. The answer to this question speaks volumes about the type of person I’m encountering and I can usually deduce whether or not we’d get along based on what they say. And more people that I’d care to admit have said that they want to make money.

This is possibly the worst response to this question. Not that there’s anything wrong with money. I love money. Well, I actually love the things that money gets me, but that’s besides the point. But I certainly do not hold it higher than all other things. Maybe I just take the answer to that particular question more seriously than most, but people who tell me that they specifically want money out of life come off as flat and without substance.

Empty and hollow are those who search only for money.

Yes, money is important in this world of ours. It’s a necessary evil that keeps us off the barter system. But it should not be your life’s work only to make money. I know that it’s cliche, but it’s true that the most valuable things in life have little to no worth. Those who only seek fortune will soon find their lives filled with emptiness and misery.

Now, while I agree with the sentiment that money doesn’t buy happiness, I am also aware of the fact that it is much more comfortable to be crying behind the wheel of a corvette instead of taking the bus every morning. Yes, material things can bring small happiness, but are outshined by other vastly superior joys: love, friendship, imagination, creativity, the pursuit of knowledge.

These are the things that one should want out of life. And yes, money is a means of achieving some of these things, but it should never be the final goal. Life is so much bigger than the things you can pack up into boxes.

This is a fact that I think many of us forget in the day to day struggle that we call survival. When you’re worrying about how much money is in your bank account, take a moment to remember the things that are most dear to you, those priceless and irreplaceable abstractions that you could not do without, and compare them to those scraps of green paper with some numbers and a picture of a dead monkey on it that we break our backs over.

It’s sort of funny when you think about it…

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