People change over time. It might seem like an obvious thing, but we never truly understand the ramifications of change until we stop and reflect on it. The person we were two minutes ago is different from the person we were two months ago to the person we will be two years into the future. Sometimes these changes are profound. Other times they are so small we barely notice. But these changes, large or small, are especially noticeable for a writer.
We see this a lot with famous authors as they go through the trials and tribulations of life. George Orwell wrote poignant allegories based on his experience with war just as HP Lovecraft formed insane works of horror as he grew bitter and resentful from the struggles of poverty and sickness. That old mantra, “write what you know” is true. If you experience heartbreak you’ll create a tragedy. If you become angry you’ll craft a work of rage. Or maybe it’s the opposite. A broken heart will lead one to write a love story or hate will cause a writer to express a tale of hope and joy. Either way, outside influence continually molds one’s artistic approach to his or her work. And it never stops. All we can do is choose how to focus it.
For me, becoming a parent is undoubtedly the one experience that has changed my perspective on all things life, which obviously includes my storytelling. To break it down to the nuts and bolts of things, I would say I’ve shifted a bit from putting more focus into characterization rather than plot. That doesn’t mean I can’t still craft a plot heavy story, but I find myself doing more character studies than I did in my youth. I remember being a kid and being excited about the big action sequences and thrilling drama. But now that I have three little ones who mean the world to me, I’ve seen a change in myself that I want to explore more internally than externally. I’ve been breaking characters down to see what makes them tick. Scrambling who they are as a person in order, some psychologists might say, to see how I have been so scrambled myself. Yeah, kids can do that to you.
What changes in perspective does the future hold? It’s always hard to tell. On a collective level, artists everywhere are being affected by our shared landscape during these turbulent times. Politics and the pandemic, both directly and through metaphor, will absolutely be popping up in people’s works. But on a personal level, it’s much harder to predict where one’s perspective might go. The future is always up in the air for all of us, which is why looking back on who were and the works we created during those times is like a window into our past.