Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I traveled recently. It was a short trip back east to stay with my son for the weekend. I had very little free time though I did catch up with my friend who is recovering from breast cancer. It was a huge relief to see her looking as good as she is and know that every day she grows stronger and that she seems to have beaten the cancer. I would have liked to see more friends just wasn’t possible.

As I was flying back to Texas, I found myself thinking how different areas of the country have different patterns of interaction and what’s valued most. In some areas, plain speaking is valued over being polite. In other areas, politeness is the priority. Some airports have employees who go out of their way to smile and others have employees who focus on briskly doing their job. And so on. Each style has benefits and drawbacks. Someone raised to think everyone should behave in a given way might be taken aback to see people acting very differently somewhere else.

For writers, this means thinking about where our characters grew up and what impact that might have on how they interact with others. It means that merely by having our character travel to a different location we might be able to create some very interesting situations as the expectations of one character clashes with the expectations of another.

Fundamentally, of course, we’re all more alike than different. But to a writer like me, it’s interesting to watch for the differences and how people handle them.

Meanwhile, I’m glad to be back home and trying frantically to catch up on all the things I couldn’t get done while I was back east.