Years ago, I had considered skating as one of the things that John, one of the two main characters of “The Story,” might do as a hobby. This was back when I was losing weight to become more physically fit to eventually do hobbies like these myself. That never happened. Although it is possible that I could skate, it’s not something I want to risk for myself, so I wonder if John will still skate?
Spoilers?: Minor [fiction versus reality]
The thing with fiction is that we write it, yes, but not all of it.
The parts of our imagination that make up the majority of fiction – 60% creativity, 20% me, and 20% the “me around me” – are the ones that call the shots. I’ve dedicated my life, to better or worse, to writing “The Story.” That doesn’t mean every moment of every day is in pursuit of that goal, but it does mean that if I’m not feeling well, I still have to write, everyday, to push myself to get good enough at writing to write “The Story.” It means, more trivially, that my mind will explore thoughts like this while I’m watching skate videos. I bought a longboard years ago with intentions to learn how to use it for efficient transportation, but I never did much with it, so it’s collecting dust along with the protective gear I bought along with it.
If I never ride it, will I ever write about skateboarding?
I had imagined John befriended Float and Quest, two characters I wrote about years ago, and they introduced him to skateboarding. They might do tricks whereas John would probably just, at most, ride around and maybe do some low-risk tricks. It might be a good place for Trishna to go, too, but as I was meandering through my thoughts on this, one idea came to mind: a reason why John might not pursue skateboarding as a hobby might be because he doesn’t want Trishna to worry about him hurting himself while skateboarding. Because of Trishna’s spine-based disability, she has to stay at home often, and can’t get out a whole lot. She might like the idea of John having new friends, and might join them on trips to the skatepark, but, she wouldn’t always be able to go when she wants.
But maybe it’s a nice spot for him to hang out?
There was a scene early on where Trishna meets John’s new friends, and one of them says “nice wheels,” which the other is a little aghast at hearing – until he shares that his mom also uses a wheelchair to get around. It does feel like something real and tangible, but this is the thing about writing fiction: to write it well, with nuance, requires looking at it from many perspectives. When I write about Trishna’s sister Sammohini, I can draw from experiences that feel more real to me, because I can imagine her going through professional or personal events in my life, but from her perspective, so it’s a low-impact way to write something that has infinitely nuanced moving pieces. The question of whether John gets into skateboarding or not depends on many factors both before and after he actually gets into skateboarding. Does skateboarding fulfill a need in his life? For friendships, maybe, but would that put a strain on his relationship with Trishna? Not specifically. It doesn’t feel that out-of-character, which is a weird thing to say, but is important to consider – and not from the perspective of the many wiki-style articles out there describing a character by limited traits.
Who are you but a series of traits and contradictions.
Who am I but someone that is known for perhaps a few things online, be it writing or livestreaming, but is that the totality of me? Those are convenient summaries, but I don’t share all of my life with everyone online. Bits of myself with many people, perhaps, but not everything. So could you reform me based on the two-million-plus words I’ve written here on my website? Not entirely. There would be pieces missing, and that’s where, I believe, character bios fall short. To get into the head of someone like John, to determine whether he would get that “spark” of interest that one does when they find a hobby or passion, requires knowing what interests him. What are his current hobbies? What would he sacrifice in order to spend more time skateboarding? Would he just do it as a fun thing, or would he want to get more into it than that?
That’s where I look at the root priorities of characters.
When Trishna’s spine flares up, John’s priorities shift to hanging out with her to make her feel comfortable. It’s not an anxious obligation that makes him feel uncomfortable. She might feel the beginnings of spine pain and need to rest. He would then, rather than go out to hang with his friends in the skatepark, shut things down for the evening and rest with her. These are the images I see in my head more than him doing anything else. So if he picks up skating as a hobby, it would be something that he would do in passing, perhaps to meet new friends like Float and Quest, but nothing more serious outside of that. His hobbies had always been ones he could share with Trishna, like playing videogames or watching stuff, but, I imagine that they have some personal time hobbies, too. Maybe John only goes to the skatepark when Trishna feels well enough to go, and maybe she practices some tricks on her wheelchair, or, maybe she finds a place off to the side to sit with some of her friends and relax?
These are important questions to consider.
None of these ideas feel particularly weird to me, so I won’t say no to the idea, but, as soon as an idea feels uncomfortable or unnatural, it’s important to cut the idea.
We often accidentally and uncomfortably force ideas.
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: Here was the video that inspired this essay.|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Written On: 2021 February 27 [11:10pm to 11:37pm]|
|Last Edited: 2021 February 27 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|