Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Life Happens

Life happens. A couple I know, friends, found that out last week. He was laid off with only 3 weeks severance pay after more than a decade with his company. Like many people, they lived paycheck to paycheck. They had to cash out their 401k earlier this year to pay off bills. They have medical conditions that will make it difficult if not impossible to get private medical insurance. And she doesn't have a job either.

Life happens. In an instant everything can change. As a writer, I know that it is how people respond to what happens that matters most.

My friends are scrambling to find out options. What services might they be eligible for? What job opportunities can he apply for? Who do they know who might have information that might be useful. They are cutting expenses, pulling together, reaching out for support and finding ways to laugh even when they most want to cry.

Other people might have reacted very differently. As human beings, it's good to remember that. If we're writers, then it's good to remember that it's not just what happens to our characters that matters but rather how they choose to respond to those events. Every person/character will be a little different. It is those differences that are interesting and what we and readers want to know about. Will the characters surprise us? Teach us something new--a way of responding that we wouldn't have thought of ourselves? Or is it an object lesson from which we learn how not to be?

Life happens. We get to choose how we--and our characters!--deal with it.