Sometimes, I question my ability to create believable characters from a different generation, especially those who are younger, like a twenty or thirty-something year-old.
I posed this question to my best friend. Nan rolled her eyes and said, “You can because we’ve been there. Done that.”
Maybe she’s right.
I’ve been a kid. I remember the joy of riding without training wheels. Holding a sparkler in my hand on the Fourth of July. The magical tinkling of an ice cream truck. Years of skinned knees. I know how it feels to be bullied.
I’ve been a teenager. Babysat other people’s children. Fought with my mother. Got my driver’s license. Stayed up all night at slumber parties. I remember being invisible to boys I liked.
I’ve been twenty and thirty. I’ve shopped til I dropped. Drank too much. Stayed out too late. I know how it feels to attend a wedding without a date. I’ve braved the barrage of well-intentioned questions about my love life. I’ve endured a few “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” evenings.
I’ve been on blind dates, bad dates, double dates and triple dates. I’ve had my share of good boyfriends, toads, and dabbled in that special “what the hell were you thinking?” category of men. I’ve waited by the phone. I’ve wondered if I’d ever find Mr. Right. (I did. Eventually. And I’m damn glad I waited.)
I recall the excitement of renting my first apartment. Buying my first piece of furniture. My first car. I’ve had jobs I hated, worried about money and eaten lots of Top Ramen.
I have life-long friends and lost touch with others. I miss loved ones who are gone forever. I’ve had my heart broken. I’ve made bad decisions. I’ve learned the hard way more than I care to admit.
The world has changed since I was twenty-something. But many of the emotions I’ve experienced are timeless. Joy and pain. Love and loss. For hundreds of years, writers have used their own experiences to create characters.
I’ve gained the wisdom that accompanies age. I’ve drawn from my experiences and used them in my stories. I can be ten or thirty again. Even if it’s only on paper.
Have your life’s experiences found their way onto a page?