So do your characters think about their birthdays at all?
Given that this month is my birthday month and it’s a big one for me, I thought I would go with a birthday theme for my post. I actually woke up on my birthday with a million thoughts racing through my head and one of them was my to do list and the need to find a topic for this post. And then the next thought that came into my mind, was what do the characters we write about feel about their birthday each year?
I’ll admit, it certainly hadn’t been something I’ve thought much about.
Questions such as:
I read a lot of books and I cannot recall any of recent talking about birthdays or their age that much. Not that that topic alone would be a fasinating read.
But as I had my fiftieth birthday dangled in front of me most of this year, the way it affected me was an interesting struggle. One I wasn’t expecting or knew how to deal with. I would think those parts might be interesting to incorporate some how in our character’s backstory.
I find it an interesting perspective to include your characters thoughts about birthdays and ages. Maybe no one ever celebrated their special day before. And all of a sudden they are thrown into a family that does. Or every year was made out to be “the one” special event of the year and now they’ve lost loved ones and it isn’t the same.
Also, milestones and how we celebrate them have changed. We grow older than people did a century ago, so there are more birthdays to celebrate. Or large families with ten children did not have a lot of extra funds, so gifts were not as plentiful as they are today. And today families live further away from each other than they did a century ago.
Do you think the emotions over turning, say, 50, has changed much? What about 18? Or 21? Young adults married at a very young age a century ago, but now most young people wait till they are done with college. So, the focus on what the number means has changed over the years.
For me, this year has been full of trepidation, reflection, and assessment. Having health issues there have been several times I’ve wondered if I’d passed into a new normal. Low energy, unable to eat certain foods, has made me wonder if I was aging out of my prime. It’s quite comical, actually. What if this was the beginning of the end? I know . . . dramatic, but hey! I have felt it a bit this year.
So as my birthday approached, and I was trying to answer my husband’s question of what I wanted to do for my birthday, a part of me didn’t want to even address it. A few friends had felt that way as well, and I laughed it off, but when it hit me that way too, well, that was an interesting perspective. I told myself it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t want to burden anyone or put anyone out. But why? Why did I feel this?
And my husband, being the gem he is, read between the lines and very patiently walked through question after question, just to make sure he understood. Which was something I really needed. Bless him, he didn’t want to get it wrong!
Some people dread them, some want to celebrate them big, while others try to find something in the middle. Maybe we can take some of the birthday experiences around us and put them in our stories. Maybe not a specific scene, but knowing your characters perspective about their special day in the background may not be a bad way to incorporate why they are the way they are.
P.S. I googled “celebrating birthdays in a romance novel” after I wrote this post and did you know there are actually several stories that are centered around birthdays? I might just have to find a few and read them.
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